BLOOMINGTON (HOI) -- Following a meeting on Jan. 13, the IHSA says at this time they will continue to keep athletics on pause. All IHSA sports have been on hold since Nov. 20.
However, the board does plan on allowing contact days for all sports not operating under an official IHSA season calendar, but only when they are allowed by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).
"The IHSA acknowledges the immense mental, emotional, and physical strain that a lack of contact with school programs is causing Illinois high school student-athletes," said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. "It is our intention that these contact days provide sport-specific training under the leadership of high school coaches. This is an effort to provide a viable sports option to high school athletes given the growing number of student-athletes opting for higher risk opportunities within the state and across state lines."
IHSA also says their board has reviewed options for a sports schedule framework, but would not be making any decisions on a schedule until their next meeting on Jan. 27.
The continued delay in IHSA sports puts the ability to play seasons for all sports in serious jeopardy.
Officials say once IDPH allows for low-risk winter sports to begin participating, they will be allowed to begin practice and competitions immediately. Those sports include Boys Swimming and Diving, Girls Gymnastics, Dance, Cheerleading, and Boys and Girls Bowling.
The IHSA Board of Directors put out a statement on the schedules, saying February could be a realistic timeline for high school sports to return.
"We realize there is a desire for finality on a sports schedule for 2020-21, however, we did not believe it would be prudent to lock ourselves into a schedule at a time when IHSA schools are unable to conduct any sports. Per Governor Pritzker, we have hope that low-risk sports may be permitted in certain regions of the state as early as this Friday (January 15). With that in mind, February seems like a realistic timeline to have sports resume statewide. We expect that the events of the next two weeks will go a long way toward informing our opinion on which scheduling option we decide to proceed with. We recognize that if no sports have resumed by February, season lengths could be impacted in certain sports, and that we may need to take a longer look at the likelihood of true seasons being conducted in high-risk sports this year. Our overall goal remains unchanged, as we hope to conduct all IHSA sports during the remainder of the school year calendar. Please know that we see and read many of the comments and messages from student-athletes, coaches, and parents, and that we are doing everything we can to try and bring IHSA sports back within the current parameters we are working in."
While Boys and Girls Golf, Girls Tennis, Boys and Girls Cross Country, and Girls Swimming and Diving were able to play this fall, all sports have been put on hold since Nov. 20.
"We remain collaborative in our efforts with IDPH and the Governor’s office. We are trying to do our part to fight the pandemic, while simultaneously seeking safe participation opportunities for our student-athletes," continued Anderson. "We understand the real mental toll this pause in athletics is having on Illinois high school student-athletes. We believe that school-based athletic participation is better regulated, making it the safest participation option for our students, and more data continues to emerge supporting that stance. We will continue to share that information with state leadership in hopes that we can work together to provide participation opportunities for young people in our state."