The Illinois High School Association had to make some drastic changes to the remaining sports schedule for 2021. The announcement came yesterday that high school basketball competition could start as soon as possible in areas of the state that are under Stage 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan.
Basketball teams are required to have 7 straight days of practices before competition can begin with the season-ending without a postseason on March 13th. Other sports given the green light to begin right away after 7 days worth of practice are boys’ swimming & diving; dance; cheerleading; bowling; girls’ gymnastics; and badminton. Dance and Cheerleading will be the only sports with a state series that will be held virtually. The virtual postseason will be held for Dance on February 27th and March 6th, with cheerleading to follow on March 6th and 12th. All of the seasons start will have an end date on March 13th.
Football and Girls Volleyball are both scheduled to start as Spring sports on March 3rd and March 8th respectively, with the season end date on April 24th. No state playoffs will occur for either. Baseball, Softball, girls soccer, and track will have seasons between April 5th through June 19th. State series for the late spring sports are yet to be decided. IHSA Director Craig Anderson said in a press release that the organization is going to do everything they can to prevent going two consecutive years without playoffs for Spring sports.
IHSA guidelines require all student-athletes to participate in masks, including basketball; and for all game personnel not participating in the contest to also wear masks and adhere to social distancing. Anderson says that with some areas of the state still under mitigations, it underscores the importance of student-athletes and personnel to adhere to guidelines and COVID-19 precautions. Anderson says it’s also a way from keeping schools from regressing or possibly having to cancel their schedule due to outbreaks.
In October, the Board ruled that students who play sports that were displaced from their traditional season could participate on high school and non-school teams simultaneously. The Board affirmed this position in Wednesday’s meeting with additional sports moving out of their traditional seasons and also ruled that girls and boys basketball players will need to cease non-school team participation within seven days of their first high school game. All sports that are out-of-season can conduct contact days through June 4. Contact days are limited to three days per week per sport with a maximum of six hours of contact per week with no interscholastic competition.
Anderson said in the release that all situations remain fluid but the IHSA wanted to provide the opportunity for student-athletes to compete this year before time runs out. Local high schools are now working on their individual schedules and are also working out whether or not to allow crowd attendance during competitions.