By Mark Jurgena
The long anticipated IHSA return to competition announcement finally came late this afternoon. The state association will move the higher risk sports football, boys soccer and girls volleyball to the spring. The remainder of fall sports will begin as scheduled with practice on August 10th.
After the fall season is completed, all sports will have modified schedules for their respective seasons.
All winter sports remained on track for the opening of their seasons with a start date of November 16th. The first games begin November 30th with a maximum of two contests per week and no tournaments of more than three teams.
With some sports moving to the spring, the state association has created both spring and summer seasons.
According to an IHSA email, the spring season will begin practice February 15th with a season start date of March 1st. Due to acclimatization, football games will begin March 5th. The end date for the spring season will be May 1st. Each team will have two contests per week and like winter sports, no tournaments of more than three teams. Football will have a maximum of one game per week.
The summer season will begin May 3rd with contests beginning May 17th. It will go until June 26th. Again there will be a maximum number of two games per week except baseball and softball which can play three per week if there is a doubleheader.
“This plan, like nearly every aspect of our current lives, remains fluid,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson in a press release. “Changes may come, and if they do, we will be agile while putting safety and students first. It was important that we provide a framework today for our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, and officials to begin preparing for the 2020-21 school year.”
This fall the IHSA will sponsor boys/girls golf & cross country. Additionally, girls tennis and girls swimming & diving will have championships.
Again all winter sports, for now, keep their same season beginning November 16th.
The spring will add the three fall sports to girls badminton, boys gymnastics and boys/girls water polo.
Finally the “new” summer season will consist of baseball, softball, boys/girls track & field and lacrosse, girls soccer, boys volleyball and boys tennis.
After the announcement went out to the schools and later, the media, the IHSA held a Q & A press conference between Anderson and members of the media.
Some highlights from the Q & A session:
*-Spring and summer sports were not flipped because the IHSA was concerned about overlapping athletes having to choose one sport over another.
*-The IHSA will try to have a limited state series for all sports if possible.
*-Football will have a 6-7 game regular schedule in the spring. After that the state is looking at some type of regional competition for the postseason. Anderson believes it will be difficult to have a state title game in football at this point.
*-The scheduling for all seasons will be left to the schools including football however Anderson believes schools should stay in their conference/region.
*-If a sport cannot get started due to its risk level and/or a spike in COVID-19 cases, the state will consider moving that sport to another season. His specific example dealt with wrestling which is a high risk winter sport. If wrestling could not compete on time, the state would look at moving it to the spring or even summer season.
*-The IHSA will have a dead period for those not in a fall sport from August 10th-September 6th. From there non-fall sports will have 20 contact days with their student-athletes, similar to what has been occurring in the summer of 2020. That will last from September 7th-October 31st.
*-He also stated that conducting state series at certain intercollegiate venues may be difficult due to the changes in the IHSA calendar and changes in the calendar of colleges as well.
*-Anderson indicated the IHSA is prepared to have games in accordance with the social distancing guidelines produced by the state of Illinois.