IHSA influences DGN sports’ seasons

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Suburban Life

Following the guidelines: Girls’ varsity basketball plays in masks before the hiatus on indoor sports

Emma Gramm, Feature Editor

Due to the changes in COVID-19 restrictions, the Illinois Department of Public Health has made decisions affecting the outcome of many high school athletes’ seasons. The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) and various sports administrators are having to maintain flexibility with the changes and reforms being made. 

All sports are put into three categories depending on their safety level: high, medium, and low. This determines the safety precautions they need to take and whether or not people can participate. 

Completed Sports Seasons

Cross country, golf and tennis were all sports that were able to qualify as low-risk given that they could remain outdoors and socially distanced. These sports were held in the fall, allowing for student participation in a competitive season. 

Cross country worked around these restrictions; they separated their team into three groups in which to run, did not use the weight room or any of its equipment, and took daily temperature checks. Head cross country coach John Sipple was in charge of creating a safe environment for the team and felt this was the best way to go about it. 

“When you are working outside, there is really not a lot of exchange there. That keeps us at almost zero percent transmission. The problem is more indoors. Typically we would have hundreds or thousands of participants in meets and now we’re just having dual meets,” Sipple said.

Senior Evan Cummins is nearing the end of his last year running for DGN, but, given the circumstances, he felt the same experiences were not achieved under the IHSA COVID-19 conditions. 

“I think that since we had a short season and some of the big meets were canceled, it caused us all to have less of an actual experience,” Cummins said. “All in all, we were extremely fortunate to have a season and were lucky enough to get some races in.”

New Adaptations and Concerns

Football is qualified as a high risk sport, causing their fall season to be out of the picture. Their season will potentially take place Feb. 15, if given approval. This led to head coach Joseph Horeni questioning why this is happening with many surrounding states having the ability to play.

“I am just sad that other states have been allowed to do it. Almost all the midwest states are playing football or are already done with their seasons. That part is just frustrating. They were able to sustain a whole season, so it is not like people aren’t doing it,” Horeni said. 

With many seasons being moved back due to COVID-19 restrictions, some players are now finding that it may not be a possibility to participate in both of their sports. Senior Kevin Bozeman, for example, who has participated in basketball and football has found that the ability to play for both seasons may be compromised. 

“In the end, there’s only so much we can do. I really hope that there aren’t any limitations to me being able to play both football and basketball when the time actually comes. With both seasons being set to the spring I’m going to have to try and find a way to play both,” Bozeman said. 

Basketball was also hopeful for a debut Nov. 16, which Governor JB Pritzker prevented when he labeled basketball as a high-risk sport. IHSA members tried to push basketball to still continue, but their efforts remained insufficient. 

Head basketball coach James Thomas has had to quickly respond and work with such abrupt changes. 

“Everyone is trying their best to navigate the COVID era, which has made planning really difficult. We continue to modify and adapt whenever new information or additional protocols come our way,” Thomas said.

Indoor Sports’ Seasons

Many indoor sports (boys’ and girls’ basketball, boys’ swimming and girls’ bowling, competitive dance and cheerleading) anticipated resuming Nov. 16, but IHSA directors called for a hiatus on all indoor sports and activities at a virtual meeting Thursday. Due to the spike of COVID-19 cases, there have been new state mitigations imposed conflicting with such seasons.

Cheerleading was one of the sports in the midst of practicing until indoor sports were mandated to shut down. This held back their competition dates and gamedays. IHSA has come up with different outtakes to resuming their season–one of them being virtual competitions. Head cheer coach Allyson Passarelli anticipates the official start date of their season to now be Jan. 1. 

“I’d be naive if I said I can 100 percent depend on a Jan. 1 start date, as things have changed so many times since this all started in March. However, I am extremely optimistic that we will start on Jan. 1 with an extended end date for our season. Without stunting, our sport is considered low risk, and I know the IHSA is dedicated to allowing low risk winter sports to run,” Passareli said. 

Senior varsity cheerleader Frances Wilson struggles with the fact that this is her last year in cheer and has to go along with the many circumstances.

“As this is my final year, I really hope we are able to get some sort of football season in the spring because one of the biggest things I miss are the Friday night games,” Wilson said.  

IHSA 

Governor Pritzker and health officials are following tier 3 guidelines after the surge of outbreaks caused by recent travel over Thanksgiving. With District 99 remaining remote through the end of the semester, it is uncertain how sports seasons will fall in line.

Assistant Executive Administrator for IHSA Matt Troha affirmed that the IHSA constantly works with the IDPH on reviewing the possibility of resuming the sports season. The reality of activities taking place is in January, or beyond. 

“It is difficult to predict where the COVID numbers are going to be. There is a strong probability these are going to rise in December and over the holidays. In conventional wisdom, January looks more realistic,” Troha said.