The IHSA has declared that basketball will happen in the state of Illinois this winter—if schools want it to.
On Wednesday, the board of directors met and decided to allow member schools to start practices on Nov. 16 with contests within a COVID reason or conference starting Nov. 30.
Masks will be worn by all players, coaches, and officials during play and teams will be allowed a maximum of 31 games.
The IHSA said it will become a local school decision to determine if a school will allow their teams to participate.
The board released a statement that said: “The Illinois High School Association Board of Directors made the decision today to continue with the IHSA basketball season as scheduled in 2020-21. In August, the Board slated basketball to take place from November to February based on the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) assigning a medium risk level to the sport. The IHSA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) offered additional mitigations, such as masks during play and social distancing on benches, that the SMAC believed would allow basketball to be played safely.”
The high school basketball season was potentially put on hold on October 27, when Governor JB Pritzker announced that IDPH had changed basketball’s risk level from medium risk to high risk.
The board decided to follow the recommendation of the IHSA Sports Medicine Committee after not being presented with any “causal” evidence that rising COVID-19 cases make basketball more dangerous to play by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
The IHSA said neighboring states have sponsored both high and medium risk sports in the fall and have noted a low incident rate of COVID-19 spread.
The IHSA also cited the importance of students’ mental health and complications with moving sports seasons again, as well as students playing travel sports in other states.
“Students can be better protected in the high school setting, and the Board remains steadfast that playing under IHSA rules and SMAC mitigation is the safest way to conduct athletics at this juncture,” the statement read. “Contact days for our teams this fall have been an incredible boon to our students’ well-being. We fear for the mental health of students who attempt to traverse a long winter with no athletic outlet available. So much about dealing with this virus has been learned in the past eight months, and this decision will grant the membership the opportunity to apply that knowledge during their basketball season.”
The board voted to move the sport of wrestling from the winter season to the summer season, which will run from April 19 to June 26, 2021.