IHSA authorizes high school sports to resume

Provides schedules for remaining sports seasons.


Clarion Staff

Sophomore Mohamed Douhabi attempts a three-point shot before practice. Photo taken by Clarion Staff.

Ethan Taylor, Sports Editor

After over two months of Illinois High School sports being halted due to COVID-19, the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) announced a plan on January 19 stating that, in coordination with Governor Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health, certain high school sports in Illinois will be allowed to resume practices immediately and received their season schedules on Wednesday, January 27 at the most recent IHSA board meeting.

Although practices were resumed on January 20 for winter sports, no competitions are allowed to take place until a total of seven practices are completed, and the school is located in a county which has reached phase four in the COVID-19 protocols. Cook County is in Tier one of phase three, meaning that it’s one one step away from all sports being allowed to participate in games and competitions. 

At the IHSA board meeting on Wednesday, January 27, the board released the schedules for all remaining high school sports seasons in Illinois, which unexpectedly included a season, with games allowed to be played, for all low-, medium-, and high-risk sports. This includes football and wrestling, the two most prominent high-risk sports to have their seasons delayed. Many coaches and athletes across the state for these two sports in particular were doubtful they would be permitted any season at all. 

“I am extremely excited to be able to have a senior season and just get to play with my teammates one last time. And I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to play our full schedule but I think the mindset will be week-by-week, and to not take anything for granted this season,” said senior Luke Swiatek, co-captain of the RB football team.

The spring 2021 football season is scheduled to begin on March 3 and last until April 24, with games starting on March 19. There will be no postseason for high-risk sports this year, just a shortened regular season that is expected to include roughly six games. Wrestling was also pushed into the spring, with a tentative start date set for April 19, and the season being completed no later than June 12.

Another sport that faced serious doubt in having a season being played this year was basketball, as the past two months it had been repeated that all medium- and high-risk sports would have to be further postponed into the school year, causing many to believe that all hope for a basketball season, which would typically be played in the winter, would be minimal. 

Despite this wide-ranging belief, the IHSA announced that they would attempt to offer a basketball season starting immediately, and allow teams to play as many games as they can permitting their region is in phase four of COVID-19 protocols, something RB and the rest of Cook Country have yet to reach, meaning they’ll have to keep practicing in hopes of COVID-19 restrictions loosening and allowing competitions against other schools to take place.

“It was definitely a shock, hearing that we were going to be able to play. It was really sudden to be told that we were having a basketball season after months of thinking that there was no possibility of us having one,” said senior basketball player Jack Szymczak.

Szymczak also stated that he knows that there was a possibility that they could end up playing little to no games at all this season, so the team has to be responsible both on and off the court.

“We’re pretty hopeful that we’ll be able to play games this season because of the plan the IHSA passed to start games really soon. There’s a much shorter game schedule this season, so hopefully we can stay healthy as a team and avoid COVID-19 so we’re able to play as many games as we possibly can,” Szymczak said.

Perhaps the sports that were given the most generous schedules from the IHSA would be the upcoming low- and medium-risk spring sports, who after having their seasons be postponed after less than two weeks in the spring of 2020 due to COVID-19, were granted nearly a full spring season this year, including an entire state playoff series.

“The Board wants to do everything in their power to prevent spring sports from going two consecutive years with no postseason IHSA play,” said Craig Anderson, IHSA’s executive director.

Spring sports at RB this year include boys’ and girls’ volleyball, water polo, lacrosse, soccer, football, boys tennis, wrestling, baseball and softball.

“I’m stoked for the release of the schedule and the decision to pursue with the season. It’s a great way to close off my senior year and there’s nothing I’d rather be doing this spring than enjoying the weather playing baseball. I wasn’t overly concerned about when the schedule would be released, just excited that we’re going to have a season this year,” said Charlie Buh, a senior member of the RB baseball team. 

The IHSA has been under intense pressure since late November to release an updated schedule of the remaining high school sports seasons, something many thought would be an impossible task just a few weeks ago with COVID-19 cases rising rapidly across the state, yet they still managed to offer a season, whether it be shortened or not, to all sports yet to play this school year.

 “Ultimately, the Board adhered to its stated goals throughout the pandemic: providing an opportunity for every IHSA student-athlete to compete safely this year and maximizing opportunities for traditional IHSA spring sports after they lost their entire season a year ago. I recognize that many schools and coaches could likely offer a tweak here or there that would have, in their opinion, made it ‘better’ for their school or sport,” stated Anderson in IHSA’s January 27 press release.