Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker squashed any thoughts of an fall sports season in football, volleyball or soccer on Tuesday.
Pritzker isn’t interested in the fact that neighboring states like Indiana, Iowa and Missouri have progressed with their traditional sports seasons.
“We have the lowest positivity rate in the Midwest — still too high. Look at the states that you are talking about, they all have very high positivity rates, double digit positivity rates in most,’’ said Pritzker during a news conference at Pearls’ Place Restaurant in Chicago. “If they have decided to endanger children and families in those states by allowing certain contact sports to take place. That is their decision. That’s not something that is good for the families and the children in Illinois.’’
And while Pritzker doesn’t seem very likely to change is mind there are coaches and athletes throughout the state that are planning organized rallies in both Chicago and Springfield on Saturday.
The #LetUsPlay Springfield rally is scheduled for 1 p.m. in front of the Illinois State Capitol Building, while the Chicago rally at the James R. Thompson Center is scheduled for 10 a.m.
All of this comes one day after the IHSA Board of Directors approved several updates to the IHSA Return to Activities guidelines.
The IHSA eliminated the limitations of two games per week for the winter, spring and summer seasons, basically reverting to the normal season game limitations. The tournament limitations of just three teams is still in effect.
“We have preached that this school year will be fluid,’’ said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “The changes made by the Board today are a good example of that.
“When the IHSA’s initial Return to Activities guidelines were established, the limitation of two contests per week felt like a constraint that would help limit exposure. However, given how well our state is handling the pandemic, and the lack of setbacks in the fall sports we have conducted so far, there was a consensus that we could move forward with allowing schools to schedule winter, spring and summer sports without further restrictions.’’
What do the changes mean for the Danville Vikings?
“It’s good because we will now be able to play every Big 12 team, home and away, this basketball season,’’ said Danville athletics director Mark Bacys. “So, we will have a true champion at the end of the season.’’
But, it will also force the Big 12 leaders to comprise new schedules for all sports.
“Now, we are adding two more conference games and the two non-conference games that we had, might need to be moved to different dates,’’ Bacys said. “As a league, we are going to need to re-work our schedules in those sports during the winter, spring and summer seasons.’’
Additionally, IHSA schools will now have an extra two weeks for those summer sports like baseball, softball, boys tennis, girls soccer and track.
Originally, the summer season was schedule to start practice on May 3, but on Monday, the IHSA moved that up to April 19.
“We understood that when the modified scheduled for the 2020-21 school year was released that the summer sport season coaches would take some umbrage with it,’’ Anderson said. “However, we also knew that summer was the season that we had the most time and flexibility to work with, so we preached patience. We are glad to be able to provide some relief by creating that option to start two weeks earlier.’’
One potential problem with that change is that the summer sports will overlap with the spring seasons of football, boys soccer and volleyball as those seasons are scheduled to run until May 1.
“There might be some struggle for multi-sport athletes, but overall, I think it can work itself out,’’ said Bacys, noting that football players on Danville’s semifinal football teams of 2009 and 2010 did alright when they went to basketball the next week.
The IHSA Board had discussions about Independent Team Participation, which is IHSA By-law 3.100. Basically, it doesn’t allow IHSA athletes to participate simultaneously on a non-school team. Under the 2020-21 IHSA calendar, there are possible conflicts in volleyball, soccer, baseball and softball.
According to a e-mail on Tuesday from Matt Troha, an assistant executive director for the IHSA, the board tabled that decision and will await feedback from coaches in those sports before making a final decision.