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Governor, IDPH deliver gut punch to Illinois winter sports

  • High School gyms across the state of Illinois will sit quiet after the Illinois Governor and the Illinois Department of Public Health deemed the sport "high risk" Tuesday.

    High School gyms across the state of Illinois will sit quiet after the Illinois Governor and the Illinois Department of Public Health deemed the sport "high risk" Tuesday.
    SPYDER DANN | mdann@dailyregister.com

 
By Spyder Dann mdann@dailyregister.com
updated: 10/28/2020 10:23 AM

Illinois high school sports took another punch to the gut Tuesday, again courtesy of Governor J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department Of Public Health, when the two deemed the winter sports of basketball and wrestling as high risk sports.
Originally, in July, when Pritzker and the IDPH laid it out its guidelines for all sports, basketball was one of the many that were put in the medium risk category. On Tuesday, that all changed, meaning basketball can have no-contact practice and can only do training.
Benton head boys' basketball coach, Ron Winemiller, who is also on the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association said he's disappointed in the decision, but more than anything, he's confused.
"I just want someone to come out and give these kids, the coaches, our parents a definitive guidance. But, all they want to do is kick the can down the road. The IDPH has held all the power and I understand the IHSA has tried to make some decisions, but in the in end, the IDPH was going to decide if we were going to have a season or not. This has been like an old Curt Reed team, just run out the clock until it's too far gone and we have ran out of days. It's disappointing."
To play games, basketball has to move to Level 3, where all lower risk sports are currently at.
The IHSA was scheduled to announced its plans for basketball at a meeting Wednesday.
And while the IDP has moved basketball to high risk, it also states on its website for All Sports Policy that basketball could be considered low risk of the mitigation of 6-foot social distancing on the bench in met.
In an email to media Tuesday afternoon, IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson released the following statement.
""About 15 minutes prior to Governor Pritzker's press conference today, we were alerted that the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has elevated the sport of basketball from a medium risk level to a high risk level. We remain considerate of the recent rise in positive COVID-19 cases in our state. However, in our meeting with IDPH on Friday (October 23), we felt that we presented multiple options that would allow for basketball to be conducted safely by IHSA schools this winter, many of which are being utilized in neighboring states who plan to play high school basketball. Despite that setback, there is some positive news, as IDPH accepted the IHSA's mitigations related to other sports, including cheerleading and dance, allowing them to move from a medium risk level to a low risk level. We will hold our special Board of Directors meeting on October 28 as scheduled, where our Board will provide direction on the other winter sports, as well as discuss the IHSA sports schedule for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year."
The first official start of practice for girls basketball in state was scheduled to take place Monday (November 2) and for the boys, a week late (November 9).
Harrisburg High School girls' coach Jake Stewart wasn't surprised Pritzker blindsided the IHSA.
"I'm so third of our kids being put on a string and played like a puppet," Stewart said. "I'm tired of it and it's annoying. I'd rather them tell us, No, than tell us we can play in January. What's going to change in January? Nothing. What's the end game? Someone tell me what the end game is.
"Here is what I want to do, I'm just going to take my kids and play AAU basketball, because you can do that and be normal. We'll play all the surrounding states in Illinois and we'll be the Harrisburg Purple People Eaters. This is annoying and I'm tired of it."