(WCIA) — High school sports are back in regions under Phase 4 guidelines, but the season will have a very different look and feel this year.
Athletes and coaches will be required to wear masks when they can’t properly social distance–in practice and competition. That means sports with a lot of physical contact (wrestling, football, basketball) will be expected to mask-up at all times.
“I’m not a big fan of masks especially while playing sports, and after doing layups I would have to pull it down to take a breather because it’s so hard,” says Central A&M athlete Julia Braundmier. “But at the same time if I have to wear a mask to play I’ll wear a mask.”
Spectators at both outdoor and indoor events will be capped at 50 in regions under Phase 4, and athletic directors around the area have already begun preparations on how to manage spacing on the gym/field to enhance social distancing.
“With football especially, the whole environment is having the fans there, and it’s a loud environment and it’s very exciting,” says Arcola senior Cameron Roberts. “Without that it’s going to be weird it’s going to be different, and I had my concerns with it like maybe damaging our motivation a little bit, but we’re still going to go out there, and we’re still going to play hard. We’re going to do what we love to do.”
Additionally, high-risk sports like basketball, football, and wrestling also won’t get to have a postseason. They can hold intra-conference or intra-EMS competition, but a state series is out of the cards for now.
“The postseason is always something you work for during the season,” says Arcola athlete Beau Jones. “I think would be really great to have it, but we’re all just grateful that we get to go out there and play hopefully, and put on our helmets and our pads.”
“Everybody wishes there’s a postseason to go as far as you can,” says Paxton-Buckey-Loda athlete Gavin Coplea. “But I think it’ll be fun to play no matter what.”
The IHSA will have a Board of Directors meeting on Wednesday January 27th. They’re expected to roll out the schedule, and more information then. Multi-sport athletes are hoping for some clarity, and are concerned their sports seasons might overlap, and they may be limited to playing just one sport his year.
“Whatever they put out I hope it’s just fair for our athletes. I hope they don’t make athletes decide between two sports, whether that means shortened seasons or whatever it is,” says athletic director Nick Lindsey. “A school like us, we have a ton of multi-sport athletes, and we want all of our coaches doing all the sports that they can. I think that’s the biggest thing is keeping the kids best interest in mind.”