fall sports

Student-Athletes Protest Outside Pritzker's Home, Demand Return to Fall Sports

The IHSA, along with Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, have remained adamant that contact sports like football and volleyball will be pushed to the spring

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One day after plans were announced for a class action lawsuit against the Illinois High School Association, seeking for fall sports to resume, several student-athletes and their parents took their fight to outside Gov. J.B. Pritzker's Gold Coast Sunday.

"We're trying to get his attention," said Dave Ruggles, a parent who is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit. "We're trying to send a message... he's the guy who's stopping this from happening."

Ruggles said he believes the IHSA did not follow bylaws, and hopes the court will force the association to do so.

The IHSA, along with Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, have remained adamant that contact sports like football and volleyball will be pushed to spring as a result of the pandemic.

In a statement to NBC 5, Jeffrey Widman, an attorney with Fox Rothschild LLP, said the law firm "intends to file a class-action lawsuit that will be on behalf of all  IHSA student-athletes in Illinois within the next 72 hours.”

"We understand health and safety, but somebody needs to stand up for these kids, and that’s why you’ve seen these rallies and why you’ve seen kids try to tell you these stories," said Joe Trost, an advocate for student-athletes.

Outside Pritzker's home Sunday, student-athletes renewed their calls to return to the field.

Johnathan Rodriguez, who plays soccer at Thornton Township High School, worries that missing his senior season could prevent him from playing soccer in college.

"We're willing to do anything," he said. "We all know this requires effort, and we're willing to put that forth."

Other states around Illinois have begun playing football, leaving the state as the only one in the Midwest not currently allowing high school football to take place.

Pritzker has said that he has remained in close contact with infectious disease experts, and says that the decision to push those sports back to the spring is based on their recommendations.

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