IHSA basketball moved to higher risk category after Gov. Pritzker, IDPH announce updated winter sport guidelines

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WCIA — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced new restrictions on high school winter sports on Tuesday, including boys’ and girls’ basketball. The Illinois Department of Public Health updated its guidance for youth and adult recreational sports, moving basketball from a medium to higher risk sport. Under current protocol, that means no contact practices or games are allowed.

“This isn’t the news that anyone wants to hear and it’s not news that I want to deliver but this virus remains dangerous and deadly to kids and parents and especially grandparents and this is the best thing that we can do for the health and safety of families under the current circumstances,” Pritzker said at his daily COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday. “We know that this virus is of most concern, when people are indoors with high contact, especially in vigorous situations that bring about heavy breathing like in wrestling, hockey, and basketball. Just like with fall sports, nothing is canceled, but some tournament play is being put on hold until we’re through the thick of this pandemic.”

This all comes less than 24 hours after the IHSA Board of Directors was scheduled to have a special meeting to decide and announce the plan for winter sports. With basketball at Level 1, it means the sport will have to move up to Level 3 before games are allowed. The IHSA was not given much notice, before the changes were announced.

“About 15 minutes prior to Governor Pritzker’s press conference today, we were alerted that the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has elevated the sport of basketball from a medium risk level to a high risk level,” IHSA executive director Craig Anderson said in a statement. “We remain considerate of the recent rise in positive COVID-19 cases in our state. However, in our meeting with IDPH on Friday (October 23), we felt that we presented multiple options that would allow for basketball to be conducted safely by IHSA schools this winter, many of which are being utilized in neighboring states who plan to play high school basketball. Despite that setback, there is some positive news, as IDPH accepted the IHSA’s mitigations related to other sports, including cheerleading and dance, allowing them to move from a medium risk level to a low risk level. We will hold our special Board of Directors meeting on October 28 as scheduled, where our Board will provide direction on the other winter sports, as well as discuss the IHSA sports schedule for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year.”

The conflicting part of the release was in a separate page of the document, saying basketball could be considered a low risk sport IF there can be six feet of distance on the bench.

Read the full document from the IDPH here: https://dceocovid19resources.com/assets/Restore-Illinois/businessguidelines4/youthsports.pdf

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