Despite increasing pressure from parents and student-athletes to allow fall sports to commence in the state of Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker is standing firm that he will not sign off on allowing sports like football to start now.
During a press conference Tuesday, Pritzker said that he is continuing to listen to “doctors and researchers,” and said that the choices of other states will not impact his decision.
“I’m not willing to sacrifice people’s lives or their health,” Pritzker said. “Neither the children nor their parents who would be affected also. I’m relying on doctors and researchers to give us the information. This isn’t a political decision.”
While all states that border Illinois are currently playing high school football, including Wisconsin and Indiana, Pritzker was adamant that he won’t be swayed by the decisions of the state’s neighbors when it comes to allowing fall sports to take place.
“Those are states, fine, if they decided to endanger children and families in those states by allowing certain contact sports to take place, then that is their decision. It is not something that is good for the families and the children of Illinois.”
Dr. Allison Arwady, the director of the Chicago Department of Public Health, echoed Pritzker’s comments in her own press availability, saying that the city’s focus should be on getting children back into classrooms instead of onto football fields.
“If we’re not in a situation where it’s safe to have Chicago Public Schools in session, I don’t feel that we’re in a safe situation to be playing sports, to be perfectly honest.”
Arwady says she agrees with the state’s policies on contact vs. non-contact sports, but also said she feels for those student-athletes who are working toward potential sports scholarships to college.
That being said, she still believes that the priority should be to get students back into classrooms before getting them all back on the playing field.
“Being able to prioritize having in-person education takes an even higher priority for me,” she said. “I don’t see a setting where we would make any different recommendation than the state has made, or to make a recommendation for having sports play when the school itself cannot be open.”