COVID-19 Illinois: Pritzker announces youth sports guidelines, IHSA moves some seasons; 1,393 new coronavirus cases, 18 deaths

IHSA changes seasons for football, soccer and more, but no cancellations
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Governor JB Pritzker announced new guidelines on youth sports in Illinois due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The update comes as Illinois reported 1,393 new COVID-19 cases and 18 additional deaths Wednesday.

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced that the state's total confirmed COVID-19 cases has reached 175,124, including 7,462 deaths.

The preliminary seven-day positivity rate for July-21 to July 27 stands at 3.8% as the state conducted 38,187 tests in the last 24 hours.

As of Tuesday night, officials said 1,491 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, with 355 patients in the ICU and 152 patients on ventilators.

Per the governor, based on contact and proximity certain sports, such as tennis and baseball can move forward with more limited restrictions than contact sports such as wrestling and football.

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Governor JB Pritzker announces restrictiosn on youth sports as the state reports 1,393 new COVID-19 cases.



There are three risk levels: lower, medium and high, and four tiers of level of play. The tiers range from no contact practices at level one to full scale tournaments in level four.

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In tier one, only no-contact practices and training are allowed. In tier two, intra-team scrimmages are allowed with parental consent for minors. In tier three, intra-conference intra-EMS-region or intra-league play is allowed and there may be state or league championship games for low risk sports. In tier four, tournaments and out of conference games can be played and out of state play and championship games are also allowed.

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Among the sports delayed are football, girls volleyball and boys soccer.



In the wake of the governor's announcement, the IHSA met Wednesday to decide what to do for fall sports.

The board announced it was not canceling any sports, but has moved higher risk sports like football, boys soccer and girls volleyball from its traditional fall season to a spring season instead. Baseball, softball, track and field, girls soccer, boys volleyball, lacrosse and boys tennis , which all typically have spring seasons, will now be played in the summer.

All seasons have also been truncated. IHSA boys and girls golf, girls tennis, cross country and girls swimming and diving will remain fall sports, the board said, and will start on Aug. 10 as scheduled.



The fall season will now run Aug. 10 to Oct. 24. The winter season will run Nov. 16 to Feb. 13. The spring season will run Feb. 15 to May. The summer season will run May 3 to June 3.

"The Board believes this plan offers the most realistic chance for student-athletes to participate in interscholastic sports while balancing the challenges of a new academic setting and IDPH Guidelines," said Erie High School Principal and IHSA Board President Tim McConnell. "We are an education-based athletic association, and school has to come first. By delaying the majority of the team sports in the fall, it will allow our schools and students the chance to acclimate to what will be, for many, a totally new educational experience. We will do our best to try to give every student-athlete the opportunity for a season this school year."

"Whatever opportunity they give us, we'll take advantage of it," said Barrington High School senior and football player Evan Roper.

Roper is planning on playing football in college next year, but he's also one of the top wrestlers in the state. His wrestling season is in doubt as well.

"As long as we get the chance to play, I don't care where they place us, as long as we get the chance," said Barrington Football Coach Joe Sanchez.

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There may not be Friday night lights this fall, but the IHSA opted to move football and other high risk sports instead of cancel them during the COVID-19 pandemic.



"At the end of the day, that's all you can ask for," said Morgan Park High School head football coach Chris James. "I'm just happen that they get to play whether it be 20 degrees or whether it be 80 degrees."

The Barrington girls volleyball team is also holding camp in the gym. Their season has also been pushed back to spring.

"We can't control it. We're just gonna try to make the most of what they give us," said coach Michelle Jakubowski.

On a conference call with reporters Wednesday afternoon, the IHSA says this is a starting off point. They do anticipate changes to come, all dependent on COVID19 case numbers and a possible vaccine.

Effective August 15, lower level risk sports, including baseball, tennis and golf, can be played at levels one, two and three, with competitions allowed with safety protocols.

Medium risk sports, including basketball and soccer and volleyball can be played at levels one and two with no contact practices and team scrimmages.

Higher risk sports including football, hockey and lacrosse can be played at level one with no contact practices and training and conditioning.

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"I know our hearts break when we hear the word 'restrictions,' especially when it comes to our children's love for their sports. Whether this year is their first time on the court or it's their senior season - this isn't the news anyone wants to hear," said Governor Pritzker. "But with rising rates of spread of the virus, with rising positivity rates throughout Illinois and the United States, this is a situation where the toughest choice is also the safest one. Therefore today, my administration is releasing new guidance restricting youth and adult recreational sports in Illinois. We have worked in consultation with the governing bodies of many of these organized sports programs, and collectively we hope that, when metrics and risks improve measurably, we will be able to restart these sports."

Illinois has listed the full list of guidelines on the state's coronavirus website.
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