ROCKFORD – The Illinois High School Association Board of Directors on Tuesday announced that it has decided to cancel all spring tournaments.
The decision comes in conjunction with Friday’s announcement by Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois State Board of Education that all Illinois high schools will complete the 2019-20 school term from home via E-learning.
“We support the decision by Gov. Pritzker and the Illinois State Board of Education, and given the logistics, we simply felt we could not conduct state tournaments that meet the expectations of our member schools this spring, ” IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said. “As disappointing as it may be for students, it is the right decision for their health and safety, as well as for the health and safety of the general public, as we cope with this unprecedented pandemic.”
The IHSA offers state tournaments in the following sports and activities in the spring: girls badminton, boys gymnastics, bass fishing, boys and girls track & field, boys & girls water polo, girls soccer, boys tennis, boys & girls lacrosse, boys volleyball, baseball, and softball.
The board also determined that summer contact days are suspended for this year, unless state government and medical leaders indicate such gatherings are safe. At that time, the board indicated a willingness to reconsider how summer contact might be conducted and whether opportunities for schools to conduct some kind of spring athletic events might occur.
“Once it is determined safe to return, we will provide a detailed outline to our schools on the plan for summer contact days and possibly some kind of spring athletic events,” Anderson said. “Including if the number of days and dates that coaches can meet with athletes has been altered. At this point, though, all that is dependent upon state government and medical leaders giving the go ahead for such.”
Anderson added that those who won’t get the chance to compete again at the high school level are better for having been a part of their respective teams.
“By participating in high school sports and activities,” Anderson said, “they were exposed to life lessons in teamwork, leadership, and overcoming adversity that are difficult to replicate elsewhere. The latter is applicable now more than ever. We hope that we can band together and refocus all our efforts on supporting the doctors, nurses, first responders, and all the other essential personnel who are putting their health and safety on the line each day to keep us safe.”
The IHSA will continue to communicate with and monitor briefings from state officials, and based on those timelines, provide updates to its member schools as it relates to potential spring participation and summer contact days.
“The possibility of playing a spring sport game this summer is about closure,”Anderson said. “If we are able to offer this opportunity, no student-athlete would be restricted by having already practiced or competed with a non-school team.”