Approximately 300 High school coaches, players and parents from around the state converged on the Illinois State Capitol building Saturday to urge Governor JB Pritzker to ease restrictions on competitive play and allow all fall sports to proceed.
The Illinois High School Association postponed football, boys soccer and volleyball until the spring after the Illinois Department of Public Health declared those activities higher or medium risk on July 29th. Basketball and wrestling remain in jeopardy this winter to be played.
Governor J.B. Pritzker doubled down on no Fall sports this morning at a press conference at the Memorial Center for Learning & Innovation in Springfield: “The doctors and epidemiologists have determined that certain for example, cross country, tennis, baseball, swimming – there are quite a number of sports and quite a long list of relatively low risk sports that have been allowed as a result of the decisions by our doctors. I think their concern, and I don’t want to speak for the science behind it, but I have read some and heard some from them that I think their concern is that certain sports that are high-contact sports are likely to result in the exchange of sweat, saliva, and so on on the field and off the field. I think that is why they have recommended against having full contact [sports].”
Pritzker says that the pro and collegiate sports are allowed to compete because of their ability to afford high volumes of testing for their athletes, whereas certain high schools would not be able to regularly test.
Prtizker says that he’s simply following the science of doctors to keep communities safe, despite the tough decisions of cutting the sports: “I know that many [parents] want their kids to play. Some of those kids want to be able to play because they want to develop a record so they can possibly get a scholarship to college, and I want that for them, too. These are very, very hard choices. There is no doubt about it. My job, in part, is to weigh those choices but it is also to listen to the doctors. What I want most of all is to keep these kids, and their parents, and their grandparents, their neighbors, and their friends safe. This virus is still out there. It is still being transmitted.”
Football coaches primarily coordinated the dual #LetUsPlay rallies in Springfield and Chicago on Saturday. According to the State Journal Register, a majority of the large crowd in Springfield represented numerous football teams from downstate Illinois, with several speakers at the event from area schools. The IHSA has lobbied to be given back control of the sports calendar in recent weeks, but have been met with continued push back from the governor’s office and the Illinois Department of Public Health.