Student athletes across Illinois are awaiting a major decision from the state on Wednesday about what will happen with sports programs in the fall.
The Illinois High School Association is receiving guidance from state health officials and plans to hold its private board meeting on Wednesday. A spokesperson from IHSA said a decision isn’t anticipated until after that meeting.
The IHSA has a number of options to consider, including but not limited to: canceling the fall season all together, postponing it to winter or spring (condensing the seasons together), or allowing non-contact fall sports.
The least likely option seems to be business as usual as coronavirus cases continue to rise.
Those close to Gov. J.B. Pritzker have already hinted that fall sports aren’t likely.
"IHSA has said that they’re basically going to get out of the business in the fall," Pritzker said at a recent news conference.
Time is of the essence for high school senior athletes like Cameron Labbato.
"I’m looking to get as much film as possible," Labbato said. "I just want to have my senior season and try to be remembered."
Labbato plays on the top-ranked boys’ varsity soccer team at Lyons Township High School.
Although he hopes to play this fall, he said he understands the tough decision IHSA has to make during this pandemic.
“There’s pressure from parents, coaches, players; everyone wants to play but do they really want to risk everyone getting sick?” Labbato said. “I think whatever decision they make will be the right decision, but I’m hoping we can play.”
Labbato’s father is also the school’s head soccer coach.
“The schools would have protocol that would make it safer than whatever the clubs are doing because we have athletic trainers and the ability to buy thermometers,” Paul Labbato said. “They have a big decision with a lot of people’s health at stake. That is not something to look lightly upon.”
At Washington High School in Chicago, junior volleyball player Jennifer Arevalo said her parents are concerned for her safety but are leaving the decision up to her.
“I would be really upset. Volleyball is the only sport I play. It’s the only sport that keeps me active,” Arevalo said.
While not confirmed, student athletes have mixed reactions to rumors of a combined sports season in the spring where postponed fall sports would be placed.
Lilly Collins of St. Viator High School participates in basketball, swimming and soccer.
“I would be running around all the time, not having time to do homework or much other than that,” said Collins.
For Chicago athletes in particular, the decision weighs heavily, given that last year's fall sports were cut short due to the Chicago Teachers Union strike.