By Blake Haas
BLOOMINGTON – According to the IHSA’s top official, high school sports will return to their normal format starting in the fall of next year – meaning state tournaments are back on the table.
Craig Anderson, Executive Director of the IHSA, said the board met late last month and discussed the idea of high school sports starting on time next year with more fans in the stands.
“We did have just a brief conversation about that with the board, and you know, coming out of this summer that will be here before we know it – it is our intention that we start all of our fall sports on time. (Games will start) in their traditional seasons, with the anticipation that we’ll be able to conduct championships culminating with the state final and obviously crowning a state champion.”
However, Anderson recognized the fact that there is a possibility that some teams would have to pull back on their season due to positive COVID-19 tests.
“We know that there could be assembling blocks much like we have seen a couple of teams here, and there have to step back, but we think on that timeline we are going to be in a better position. We hope that there’s an increase of the number of spectators. Obviously, for IHSA, and when we conduct our state series, the revenue generated from folks coming to all levels of state series are critical to us.
“We’d like to see that trend, you know there’s the bridge phase that I think gets us to an expanded attendance, and then phase 5 even get’s us back to opening up facilities and to allow as many spectators as the facility would allow for. We’re looking forward to that, and again just getting kids back in the groove and in a traditional schedule with school and with their activities is critical.”
A couple of weeks back, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced that masks would not have to be worn during the competition for low-risk sports.
“We extended the spring seasons a little bit. So that is going to trend moving us into some warmer weather than maybe we’ve had with some of these traditional sports,” Anderson told WJBC News. “So all of that collectively, I think, is going to allow our students to compete safely. We’re worried about, of course, our pole vaulters and high jumpers having to compete with a mask similarly to pitchers and batters. We’re thankful that that relief was granted and that our students will be able to compete safely.”
In addition, the board approved a recommendation to Wrestling guidelines for the 2021 season that runs from April 19 to June 12. You can find updated information here.
Blake Haas can be reached at Blake.Haas@Cumulus.com.