BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — The prospect of having a prep basketball season in Illinois remains as murky as ever with the Illinois High School Association Board of Directors letting another meeting come and go with no definitive plan.
The board met Thursday to discuss how to proceed forward following Tuesday’s announcement by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker the entire state was rolling back to Tier 3 mitigations, which “pause all indoor group sporting and recreational activities including youth and adult recreational sports.”
Those mitigations take affect Friday, while there is no new target date for basketball to begin.
The outcome of Thursday’s meeting was to pause all winter sports activities, which includes practices, open gyms and scheduled games, while deciding to meet December 2 for a discussion and update on the coronavirus pandemic positivity rates and to revisit the issue December 14 at the regularly scheduled board meeting.
IHSA executive director Craig Anderson said he hopes this will be a short-term pause.
“Given the rising COVID-19 cases in our state and region, we support the Governor’s mitigations and believe it is imperative for everyone in the state to do their part in following them so that we can return to high school sports participation as soon as possible,” Anderson said.
Boys and girls basketball teams were scheduled to begin practice this past Monday with the first games scheduled for November 30.
Only a handful of teams practiced Monday, defying advice from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the governor’s office to delay the start of practice. The IHSA told its member schools it was adhering to its calendar despite the state government’s advice, but the decision to move forward fell with each individual school district.
A vast number of school districts, including Quincy Public School District 172, either decided to forego the winter season or delay the start of winter sports at the advice of the Illinois State Board of Education and their legal counsel.
Now all schools will participate in the wait-and-see pattern.
“The board is sensitive to the scheduling difficulties these delays create for athletic directors and coaches,” Anderson said. “However, our experiences this summer and fall lead us to believe that setting arbitrary start dates hinders the process even more. We realize it may seem redundant, but we have to preach patience as we await more data and direction from the state.
“Despite the obstacles this unprecedented school year has presented, the board’s vision to provide participation opportunities in all IHSA sports has not wavered.”