The Illinois High School Association said Wednesday that girls and boys basketball season will go on as scheduled this winter.
"So encouraging, I have chills thinking about that these kids get to play," said Jim Tracy, executive director of the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association.
The IHSA said its decision was student-centered, while keeping in mind COVID-19 concerns.
Parker Brown, a point guard for Wheaton Warrenville South, said his team can't wait to get back on the court.
"We'll do whatever it takes in order to play," Brown said. "We've been practicing with masks. It's been amazing. It's not ideal, but we'll do it if that means we can play."
The IHSA decision is in direct conflict with guidelines released by the state surrounding winter sports - including moving basketball into a high-risk category, meaning no competition is allowed.
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"If there is a difference of opinion, I prefer to err on the side of health and safety," Gov. JB Pritzker said. "We've told school districts what the rules are, and I think they all know. So the IHSA may have their views, but school districts know what the rules are, and I think it's unfortunate that they would be probably taking on legal liability if they went ahead and moved beyond what the state has set as the mitigation standard."
Players will be required to wear masks the entire game and there will be extra timeouts each quarter.
"What people need to understand is just how important the social aspect, the mental aspect, seeing their buddies, seeing their coach," parent Eric Brown said.
"All those things are just so critically important in the development of our young people," Tracy added.
The IHSA said it will be up to the individual districts to determine if their teams will play.