Winter Sports Pushed Back and Current Options

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Winter sports being pushed back and what the options are — those are the topics of our feature story, presented by Edward Medical Group.

Well… just as we had our roadmap laid out, our highlight schedule planned and our hopes up… the pandemic has struck again.

It’s like a worse sequel to a bad original movie… this surge in Coronavirus is Ghost Rider two: Spirit of Vengeance… As if we didn’t have enough of a leathered-out Nicholas Cage the first time around, we got even more when we didn’t even ask for it and he left everything in his wake on fire.

With cases rising everywhere, often exponentially, the state of Illinois has suspended all indoor athletics… and the IHSA has followed suit.

It’s actually the first time since the IHSA’s decision to break with Governor J.B. Pritzker regarding basketball, that the two entities are in sync.

Following the governor’s tier three mitigations, IHSA Director Craig Anderson had this to say:

QUOTE “The Illinois High School Association recognizes that today’s announcement by Governor Pritzker will temporarily pause the IHSA’s winter sports season. We remain optimistic that these new mitigations, coupled with the emergence of a vaccine, will aid in creating participation opportunities in the New Year for IHSA student-athletes in winter, spring, and summer sports.” END QUOTE

So there it is… the status of boys and girls bowling, girls gymnastics, boys swimming and diving, cheerleading and dance are all in limbo.

The next question is… what now?

It seems a little silly to start playing hypothetical but… you know… let’s do it anyways.

With winter sports pushed back until 2021 at the earliest, this could have a ripple effect on the IHSA’s plan to conduct a spring and summer season.

There are really three options the IHSA could explore.

  1. One, simply condense the winter season
  2. Two push everything back two weeks
  3. Or three have the winter season overlap with spring sports

As for condensing… competition was supposed to begin on November 30, two weeks after the official winter season began. With the holidays also often a built in down-time in the schedule, if you simply crunch the calendar in 2021, you may only lose 2-3 weeks of competition. Then again, the previously scheduled end date for winter was set for February 13… which leaves roughly 6 weeks to fit in a season.

Our next option is to push… which would allow winter sports to run their course while avoiding facility conflicts, like gym and weight room time. However… the invention of the summer season is likely to foil this plan. The IHSA has already extended its reach deep into June and doesn’t appear willing or able to go into July…

Which brings us to our final option…. Overlap. Boy, would it be tricky with swimming conflicting with water polo, and boys and girls gymnastics occurring at the same time. And those are just to name a few. This will certainly cause the most headaches for athletic directors to sort through, but it may be the best, most efficient option to salvage the winter, spring and summer seasons.

Clearly each scenario has pros and cons and not everyone will be happy with whatever the course of action is. There’s also, of course, the possibility of the suspension dipping further into 2021 if cases continue to rise. In which case… who knows what will happen.

Now, I know that in the minds of many, high school sports are the least of their worries. Friends and family members are contracting a deadly virus at alarming rates, businesses are closing doors – some for now, some for good… and the holidays are around the corner and we all just want to see our loved ones

But there are real… very real concerns over the lack of high school sports. Legitimate ones too. Athletics provide structure to student’s lives – it provides accountability, and it provides a sense of normalcy in a time that is desperate for it. So instead of minimizing or muting those who are upset over these decisions, let’s agree to approach these conversations with compassion. We’re all making the most of what we have… just like Nicholas Cage with those awful scripts in Ghost Rider.

For more prep sports content, visit the Naperville Sports Weekly page!