ILLINOIS, USA — After months of waiting, it looks like high school sports is on the way back in Illinois during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Illinois High School Association released the latest sports schedule for the remainder of the school year on Wednesday, following a board of directors meeting.
Some “low-risk” sports had already been allowed to commence, and with many Illinois regions moving into the “Phase 4” designation, “higher-risk” athletics could be next in line.
Athletes will be required to wear masks to play, except in water events or outdoor events where social distancing can be practiced.
It is important to note the final decisions on whether to play or not will lie with the individual school districts.
Here are some of the big takeaways from the IHSA schedule update:
Boys and girls basketball, boys swimming and diving, dance, cheerleading, boys and girls bowling, girls gymnastics and badminton can begin practices immediately. Each of these sports must have seven practice dates before games can begin. All of these sports will have an end date of March 13, except Badminton.
For “higher-risk” sports like basketball, schools will need to reach the designated region “phase” to begin.
There will be no state series for basketball, swimming and diving, bowling or gymnastics.
Boys soccer can begin practice on March 1 with an end date of April 17. There will be no state series for soccer.
Spring football season can begin practicing on March 3, and the first game can kick off on March 19. There will be no state series for football in the spring. The spring football season will end on April 24.
Girls volleyball can being practice on March 8, with seven practices before a first game. That season will end on April 24 with no state series.
Baseball will begin on April 5, with seven practices before a first game, and wrap up on June 19. A state series in baseball is still to be determined.
“We understood the high level of anticipation surrounding today’s announcement, along with the scrutiny that will accompany it,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “Ultimately, the Board adhered to its stated goals throughout the pandemic: providing an opportunity for every IHSA student-athlete to compete safely this year and maximizing opportunities for traditional IHSA spring sports after they lost their entire season a year ago. I recognize that many schools and coaches could likely offer a tweak here or there that would have, in their opinion, made it ‘better’ for their school or sport. Our Board faced an impossible task with a litany of factors. They were conscientious in considering every possibility and I believe their decisions today are a positive step for the mental, emotional, and physical well-being of our students. We are excited to channel our energy into creating as many positive experiences for Illinois high school students as we can between now and the end of this extraordinary school year.”
You can see the full IHSA updated spring sports calendar by clicking here.