IHSA shares spring sports update

Updates on spring sports guidelines were shared following a regularly scheduled meeting of the Illinois High School Association, IHSA, Board of Directors on Monday, March 8.

The updates came as the state continues to deal with the ongoing coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. Conditions have been improving in Illinois.

IHSA shared information about the updates on its website. Highlights include:

The board approved a recommendation to approve guidance for IHSA sports that include baseball, football, boys’ and girls’ soccer, softball, boys’ and girls’ track and field, girls’ volleyball and others.

The sport-by-sport mitigation guidelines follow all Illinois Department of Public Health All-Sports Policy Guidelines and will be posted online and shared with coaches and school personnel later this week.

IHSA executive director Craig Anderson stated:

“We are eager to inform our coaches of the mitigation guidance so they can better prepare for their upcoming seasons and we plan to get detailed information out to them soon. 

“However, this decision came with some trepidation from the IHSA Board of Directors. There are several instances where the current IDPH mitigations give us pause. 

“The Board wants to move forward for the overall good of IHSA student-athletes; however, they ask that we remain diligent in our staff efforts to have IDPH reconsider certain mitigation guidelines. 

“The IHSA has been a national leader in risk mitigation throughout our 100-plus year history and have adapted our scope to include safety against COVID-19. 

“It is imperative that the expertise from our Sports Medicine Advisory Committee and staff must be heeded.”

The board approved a recommendation to approve dates and parameters for an IHSA state series in traditional spring sports, including baseball, softball, bass fishing, girls’ soccer, boys’ and girls’ track and field and other sports.

All tournaments are currently expected to conduct all rounds of competition, including a state final. 

State final qualifiers in some individual sports may be modified to better meet gathering mitigations. 

The state series guidelines will be posted online and shared with coaches and school personnel later this week.

Discussion Items: Spectator Attendance

Information posted online noted that at each meeting of the board of directors, there are certain items the board discusses, but upon which no action is taken. 

The board heard a report from the executive director on a March 8 update from the Illinois Department of Public Health to its All-Sports Policy.

 IHSA schools located in regions that are in Phase 4 can increase spectators from 50 persons to 20 percent venue capacity in outdoor sports. This increase in spectator attendance is applicable for outdoor sports only.

(All regions of the state are now in Phase 4.)

IHSA executive director Anderson stated:

“We have been adamant in our discussions with IDPH that we believe we can safely and responsibly expand spectator guidelines without risking the general public to greater exposure to COVID-19 . 

“This felt like a commonsense change, especially as we evaluated collegiate and pro sport spectator guidelines in the state, and are happy for the student-athletes who will be participating in IHSA outdoor sports this spring and summer, as well as for their families and friends.”

The Gazette-Democrat

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