May 25, 2020

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IHSA holding out hope spring sports will take place

By Josh Brown
Daily Record

As the days without sports continue to pile up, the Illinois High School Association continues to hold out hope that they can have some semblance of a season for spring sports.

However, as the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic wages on, hope is slowly fading.

In their latest release Wednesday, the IHSA continues to remain optimistic that spring sports can happen in some form, but are also realistic that if things continue on their current pace, that likelihood becomes less and less.

"First and foremost, the IHSA continues to encourage all Illinois residents to heed the recommendations of state officials and medical experts," IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said in the release. "These quarantine and social distancing measures have been put in place not only for your own safety, but also for those around you. By adhering to them, we ensure the shortest path to returning to normalcy, including physical school attendance and participation in high school sports and activities."

With the latest mandate from Governor J.B. Pritzker keeping schools closed through the month of April, the earliest spring sports could begin is early May. Under the normal schedule, May would be when the regular season is winding down for the spring sports in preparation for the postseason. Should spring sports get started, the regular season would be shortened, while the postseason could run into late June. However, any further delay would more than likely cancel any chance to have a season, as approval has not been given to extend the sports calendar into July.

"We remain optimistic that a May 1 return to school, followed by a to-be-determined acclimatization practice period, can still result in a truncated spring season that culminates with IHSA State Series tournaments and the crowning of state champions in June," Anderson continued. "In its discussions thus far, the IHSA Board of Directors has been highly supportive of creating an exemption to the IHSA Season Limitation By-law to allow spring sports to play into late June, but competing into or beyond July is not being considered at this time. We are also realistic in recognizing that any further school postponements, or the cessation of physical school attendance for the remainder of the year, will almost certainly result in the cancelation of all remaining IHSA sports and activities this school year."

In related news, the IHSA has postponed a decision on where the IHSA Boys Basketball State Finals will be held in future years.

Champaign and Peoria are the two destinations for the basketball tournament, which will play all four classes in the same weekend beginning next season.

"Because of the time, effort and resources that each community and venue has invested into their respective hosting bids, I believe it is vital that the IHSA board be able to meet in person to vote on the state basketball bids," Anderson said. "I want them to be unencumbered in their discussion, as well as to get clarity on any questions they may have on the bids. As convenient as online meeting resources are, I do sometimes have concerns that they stifle conversation, especially with a group as large as ours."

The vote was originally set to take place at the April meeting, but has been delayed due to the coronavirus restrictions.

"As a result, there will be no vote on the state basketball hosting bids at the April board meeting," Anderson said. "Like so many of the scheduling impasses we find ourselves at, it is difficult to pinpoint an exact time when the announcement may come. The next scheduled board meeting is on June 15, but that does not necessarily mean that is the earliest a decision could come. The board meeting could be altered or a special meeting could be called. Please know that we want to make the decision as soon as possible and we will get you that information as soon as it is available. At that time, we will also lay out a plan on media availability surrounding the announcement."

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