The IHSA announced Monday it plans to meet with state officials sometime before Jan. 1 to discuss the timeline for the resumption of the winter sports season.
In a statement, IHSA executive director Craig Anderson said the IHSA intends to play every sport for the rest of the 2020-21 school year. The IHSA is hopeful to keep boys and girls basketball in the winter.
The IHSA did announce one schedule change, moving girls badminton, a low-risk sport, from the spring season (Feb. 16 through May 1) to winter. The remaining low-risk sports for the winter are boys and girls bowling, boys swimming, cheerleading, competitive dance and girls gymnastics.
The IHSA plans to meet with representatives from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the governor’s office prior to January "to develop a timeline for the resumption of winter sports."
IHSA assistant executive director Matt Troha said Monday in an email to the Northwest Herald that the IHSA and state officals have agreed to meet, but there is no date set with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout the top priority of the state. Troha said the IHSA believes the meeting will happen before Jan. 1 based on recent feedback from state officials.
After meeting with state officials, the IHSA will hold a special meeting to finalize schedules for winter, spring and summer seasons.
“The Board reiterated on Monday that they plan to do everything in their power to provide a season for every IHSA sport in 2020-21,” Anderson said. “There have been no cancellations of any sports, or discussions about cancelling any sports, thus far. The Board appreciates the patience and flexibility of the IHSA membership and remain optimistic, especially as vaccines begin to be administered, that we will return to conducting IHSA sports early in 2021.”
Additionally, the IHSA announced contact days will be allowed for out-of-season sports, "as soon as the state lifts Tier 3 mitigations." Tier 3 COVID-19 mitigations, announced Nov. 17 by Gov. JB Pritzker, prevented the start of the winter season, which was supposed to begin with practices on Nov. 16.
“The Board felt that it was important for the physical and mental health of our student-athletes to resume contacts days for all out-of-season sports as soon as IDPH deems it safe,” said Anderson. “Winter sports are not included, as we anticipate all low-risk winter sports will be able to begin their seasons at the same time.
"Basketball remains the outlier in the equation. We hope to be able to conduct basketball during the winter season, but if we cannot, basketball will be provided the same contact day opportunity as we determine where the basketball seasons fits best in the remainder of the school year.”
For now, football, boys soccer, girls volleyball, boys gymnastics and boys and girls water polo are scheduled to be played in the spring. Wrestling, a high-risk sport, already was moved to the IHSA’s summer season (May 3 through June 26).
The other sports for summer are baseball, softball, boys and girls track and field, girls soccer, boys volleyball, boys and girls lacrosse and boys tennis.