The Illinois High School Association has halted winter sports, at least for now.
The IHSA's board of directors made the announcement on Thursday, just days after Gov. JB Pritzker ordered new mitigations intended to reduce coronavirus spread.
“All IHSA sports and activities will cease by Nov. 20 for what we hope is a short-term pause,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “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.”
The association had originally planned to sponsor a basketball season. That move went against the governor's recommendation. The IHSA had invited Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to attend the meeting. Anderson indicated previously the association had received little guidance from state health officials.
Pritzker said earlier this week he would not attend the meeting, but that his office and IDPH would be available to speak with IHSA representatives.
“I believe there is a misconception that IHSA and non-school athletic programs have an adversarial relationship,” said Anderson. “In my time at the IHSA, I have not found that to be the case at all. More so, I think there is a mutual respect for the opportunities that each provide for athletes."
The IHSA board has banned open gyms and conditioning and weight training outside of any academic curriculum. The IHSA said practices and competitions can only be done virtually, though outdoor workouts and limited one-on-one skill work are allowed as long as social distancing protocols are met.
The association also said coaches cannot organize “non-school participation in any fashion.”
The IHSA plans to revisit the winter sports pause at its next meeting on Dec. 2.
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