Illinois high school athletes, parents hold rally demanding return of fall sports season

ISHA asks Gov. Pritzker to hand back over control of season

ByJesse Kirsch WLS logo
Sunday, September 13, 2020
High school athletes, parents hold rally to demand return of fall sports
Dozens of Illinois high school student athletes, coaches and parents held a rally Sunday demanding the expanded return of fall sports for Illinois schools.

MCCOOK, Ill. (WLS) -- Dozens of Illinois high school student-athletes, coaches and parents held a rally Sunday demanding the expanded return of fall sports for Illinois schools.

At the McCook rally, Wheaton Warrenville South Student Jaylen Brown said he's worried about his senior football and basketball seasons.

"This decision will determine if I get a scholarship or not," high school athlete Jaylen Brown said.

High school sports advocate and rally organizer Joe Trost says these issues can weigh particularly heavy on some CPS students.

"Imagine being a 17-year-old kid, last year you went through the CTU strike and you lost the end of your season which for a lot of these kids is a huge exposure opportunity, and then again here your senior year, realizing you could lose it again," Trost said. "Right now, everybody wants health and safety, and if the health and safety data shows that the outdoor activities can go, from a physical and mental aspect these student-athletes need it."

Trost and other organizers point out other states have allowed more high school sports to resume and there hasn't been any evidence that other school activities pose more risk.

Plainfield Central senior Kaylie Dahms said she feels it's safe enough to travel to Indiana and Missouri for club soccer matches.

"Just don't go on high fiving people like just know what you can and can't do," Dahms said.

WATCH: High school sports delay pushes some Illinois athletes out of state to keep playing

Some Illinois high school athletes have moved out of state to continue playing their sports as the state has moved traditional fall sports like football and hockey to spring to pre

The rally comes after IHSA confirmed Friday it sent a letter to Governor J.B. Pritzker asking the state to hand back over control of deciding when sports can resume.

As of now, only golf, cross country, girls' tennis and girls' swimming and diving are allowed in Illinois.

"Get back to the table, look at the data, realize that hey, you made a decision and July early August, you can make an adjustment now," Trost said.

Members of the crowd including Clinical Social Worker Adam Russo cited a recent University of Wisconsin study that found increases of depression and anxiety in high school students since the pandemic began.

"Kids aren't built for this. they want to be social, they want to be active and we're basically trying to tell them no this is okay, this is really okay it's not okay," Russo said.

The rally focused on a return to expanded high school sports but others also voiced concerns about e-learning. Speakers questioned the effectiveness of virtual class and canceled activities, suggesting the costs could outweigh the benefits.

"States around us figured it out, why can't we?" Brown asked while at the podium.

Last week, west suburban students and their parents staged several rallies lobbying for in-person learning and fall sports, saying remote instruction is itself a threat to their health.