After Governor JB Pritzker announced on Tuesday, Oct. 27, that the IDPH had changed basketball’s risk level from medium to high risk, the next move belonged to the IHSA Board of Directors in regards to the future of the 2020-2021 basketball season.
On Wednesday, that future became slightly more clear as the board voted to follow the guidance of the IHSA Sport Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) and allow boys and girls basketball practices to begin on Nov. 16, with contests beginning on Nov. 30, within an Illinois COVID Region or within a conference, if the school districts allow their teams to participate.
As a part of the mitigation plan, masks will be worn by all players, coaches, and officials during play. Boys and girls basketball teams will follow team limitations allowing a maximum of 31 games.
It will become a local school decision to determine if a school will allow their basketball teams to participate following the guidelines developed by the SMAC.
The board released the following statement regarding the basketball action:
“The Illinois High School Association Board of Directors made the decision today to continue with the IHSA basketball season as scheduled in 2020-21. In August, the Board slated basketball to take place from November to February based on the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) assigning a medium risk level to the sport. The IHSA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) offered additional mitigations, such as masks during play and social distancing on benches, that the SMAC believed would allow basketball to be played safely.
The high school basketball season was potentially put on hold on Oct. 27, when Governor Pritzker announced that IDPH had changed basketball’s risk level from medium risk to high risk.
After diligent discussion, the board has made the decision today to follow the recommendation of the IHSA SMAC as it relates to basketball. The Board remains considerate of rising COVID-19 cases in Illinois and understand the importance of adhering to safety guidelines for the good of all citizens. However, the Board has not been presented any causal evidence that rising COVID-19 cases make basketball more dangerous to play by the IDPH or any other health organization nationally or internationally. On the contrary, the IHSA has been looking to bordering states who have sponsored both medium risk and high risk sports in the fall that have noted a low incident rate of COVID-19 spread.
Instead, we will require all IHSA basketball teams to adhere to those SMAC mitigations, and allow local school officials to make decisions related to participation.”
The board also voted to move wrestling from the winter season to the summer season, which will run from April 19 to June 26, 2021, and approved IHSA’s winter sport guidance for all low risk sports, which includes boys swiming and diving, cheerleading, dance, boys and girls bowling and girls gymnastics. The IHSA board will review spectator and group gatherings for all winter sports at a future meeting in November.