ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — Time keeps marching on and crickets continue to chirp as far as high school sports competitions are concerned in Illinois.
The IHSA is still stuck in a holding pattern waiting to get more direction from the Illinois Department of Public Health. IHSA officials have been trying to arrange a meeting with the IDPH before the next IHSA board meeting next week, but apparently the IHSA isn’t getting very far with that.
As you know the winter sports season never got off the ground like it was supposed to in November. All sports were paused because of another uptick in Coronavirus. The start of the fall sports, including football, that were pushed to the spring is now less than two months away and there’s increasing skepticism that those will happen.
It’s becoming obvious that time is running out to hold all three: winter, fall and spring sports the remainder of this school year. In fact, I don’t see any way they can all be held now even with the spring sports season being pushed deep into June.
The way I see it the IHSA will be left with three options.
Option 1: Scrap the winter sports season completely, stick with the target date of an early March launch for the fall sports football, volleyball and boys soccer, and when those sports wrap up dive into spring sports.
Option 2: Hold a condensed winter sports season and scrap the fall sports that were pushed to March, then proceed directly to spring sports. This might be the logical choice since the fall sports have already been thrown off-kilter getting pushed to the spring. Plus small schools might not have enough football players to field teams in March anyway if some of their best athletes opt-out to prepare for their preferred spring sports, and at the larger schools many football players who have college scholarships locked-in are choosing to bypass their final high school football seasons.
Option 3: Scrap both the winter sports and the fall sports seasons and proceed with a full schedule of spring sports.
The third option would be the easiest path. Perhaps by April when the weather warms up and vaccinations become more available to the public it’ll be safer to proceed with sports. The majority of spring sports are also held outdoors and in sports like baseball and softball there’s not much contact and athletes are naturally distanced for the most part. And at least athletes in spring sports wouldn’t miss out on two years of competing. Springs sports were the only sports that didn’t compete the last school year.
Sadly none of these options is optimal for the teenagers who compete in them, the coaches who pour their heart and energy into their teams, or for the fans and those of us in the media who enjoy covering all the sports. But on January 7th and things moving at a glacial speed, one of the above options is probably what we’re looking at.