On Wednesday, Jan. 27, the IHSA made changes to the COVID-19 related sports guidelines and restrictions.
For the 2021 winter season, the sports playing are badminton, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls bowling, cheerleading, dance, girls gymnastics and boys swim and dive.
There are some noticeable differences to this winter season. The biggest change being that “we added another winter sport- it’s badminton,” said Daniel Dolney, Athletic Director.
Similar to what happened in the fall sports season, state series are not guaranteed for all sports.
“Dance and cheer will have sectionals and state,” said Dolney. These are the only two winter sports that will definitely have state competitions, although they will be virtual.
Besides that, the other winter sports–boys and girls basketball, boys and girls bowling, girls gymnastics, badminton and boys swim and dive–will not have a state series.
Another change that athletes will notice is that practices may be a little shorter and more spread out. This is in part due to badminton being moved to the winter season because they now have to share the gyms with basketball, cheer and dance.
The length of practices might be slightly altered because “usually our coaches do like a two-hour practice, [but now] it’ll probably be like an hour or up to an hour and a half,” said Dolney.
As for plans for the spring season, football, boys soccer, girls volleyball and boys and girls water polo are all scheduled. They will begin periodically throughout March.
Finally, the summer season will have baseball, boys and girls lacrosse, girls soccer, softball, boys tennis, boys and girls track and field, boys volleyball, and wrestling. They will all begin in April.
The IHSA is still determining whether or not to have state series for all summer season sports, except for wrestling, which at this time is not scheduled to have a state competition.
In addition to COVID-19 regulations, Illinois region mitigations require no more than 25 spectators to be present at a time in Tier 1, Tier 2 allows no spectators, but Phase 4 allows 50 spectators, and schools plan to stream games online. “So really what we’re doing here is one parent per athlete,” said Dolney.
Students are encouraged to come dressed, sanitize often and socially distance when they’re not playing. Everyone attending a game is required to come in with a mask and a COVID-19 self-certification form.
“I’m really happy that this year’s seniors, juniors, sophomores and freshmen are going to get an opportunity to play all the sports, I think that’s really important, and I think that’s something that has been missed by our kids,” said Dolney.