In a stunning move, the Illinois High School Association voted Wednesday to allow this winter’s basketball season to move forward as scheduled, a day after Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health re-classified the sport as a “higher-risk” activity.
The vote would allow practices to start for basketball in mid-November, with the season getting underway on Nov. 30, according to the IHSA’s published sports calendar.
“After a diligent discussion, the board has made the decision today to follow the recommendation of the IHSA’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee as it relates to basketball,” the IHSA said in a statement. “The board has not been presented any causal evidence that rising COVID-19 cases make basketball more dangerous to play by the IDPH or any other health organization, nationally or internationally.”
The organization said that states bordering Illinois who have allowed sports to go forward in the fall have “noted a low incident rate of COVID-19 spread,” despite the IDPH guidance issued on Tuesday.
The decision by the IHSA will allow schools to make the final determination on whether or not they will participate in the basketball season, according to a press release following the board vote.
According to the IHSA's release, all players, coaches and officials will be required to wear masks during play.
Tuesday’s decision by the IDPH to classify basketball as a “higher-risk” sport came as the IHSA continued its debate over moving forward with high school athletics this winter. Under guidelines issued by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, any sport labeled as a “higher-risk” activity should only conduct non-contact practices and workouts, meaning that returning to the court for competition would go against that guidance.
The IHSA did vote to move the wrestling season to the summer, with a start date of May 3 currently in place. Baseball, softball, track and field, girls soccer, boys volleyball and boys tennis will also kick off on that date, with tournaments wrapping up on June 26.