Governor, IDPH Announce Guidelines for Winter Sports

Guidelines for Winter Sports
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With the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) winter sports season set to begin on November 16, Governor J.B. Pritzker has released the updated Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines and risk assessments for indoor activities.

The guidelines for winter sports pertain to, but are not limited to, school-based sports, travel clubs, private leagues and clubs, recreational leagues and centers, and park district sports programs.

Basketball Now High Risk

Basketball has received an elevated risk assessment, moving from medium to high-risk. Hockey and wrestling are also high-risk sports. Under the IDPH’s current guidelines, those three sports will only be allowed to conduct no-contact practice and training.

The IDPH has four levels of competition, with high-risk sports eligible for level 1 only. Lower risk sports can be played at levels 1, 2, and 3. Medium risk sports can be played at levels 1 and 2.

Levels of Competition

Here are the four levels:

  • In level 1, only no-contact practices and training are allowed.
  • In level 2, intra-team scrimmages are allowed with parental consent for minors but there can be no competitive play.
  • In level 3 intra-conference, intra-EMS-region or intra-league play is allowed and there may be state- or league-championship games allowed for low-risk sports only.
  • In level 4, tournaments, out-of-conference/league play, and out-of-state play are allowed. Championship games would also be allowed in level 4.

Low Risk Sports

Moving in the opposite direction, cheerleading and dance was previously assigned a medium-risk assessment, but with masks and distancing, is now considered low-risk and may be conducted. Other low risk sports, bowling, gymnastics, swimming and diving, will be permitted to play during winter.

“We can’t ignore what is happening around us – because without action, this could look worse than anything we saw in the spring.” said Governor J.B. Pritzker. “It’s with that in mind that today, my administration is releasing our updated guidance for youth and adult recreational sports in Illinois ahead of the winter season.

The IHSA Releases a Statement

The IHSA is set to meet for a special Board of Directors meeting tomorrow morning and released the following statement in response to the Governor’s announcement:

“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,” the IHSA’s 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.”

NCTV17’s news and sports team will have additional coverage of the guidelines for winter sports following the results of the special Board of Directors meeting.

You can also find fall prep sports content on demand by visiting the Naperville Sports Weekly page.