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Winter sports guidelines released

Tuesday, Oct 27, 2020

* Click here for a document entitled “Science Behind Winter Sports Guidance.” Press release…

Governor JB Pritzker and IDPH announced updated guidance for youth and adult recreational sports, including, but not limited to, school-based sports, travel clubs, private leagues and clubs, recreational leagues and centers, and park district sports programs. Collegiate sports and professional leagues are not impacted by these restrictions. The updated guidance was developed by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) in conjunction with public health experts from around the state and nation and reflects the high levels of risk associated with contact sports played indoors. The guidance also accounts for new research related to COVID-19 and sports, sports related outbreaks in other states, and the fact that the second wave of the pandemic is now well underway in all regions of Illinois.

“We can’t ignore what is happening around us – because without action, this could look worse than anything we saw in the spring.” said Governor JB Pritzker. “It’s with that in mind that today, my administration is releasing our updated guidance for youth and adult recreational sports in Illinois ahead of the winter season. As with sports in the fall, nothing is ‘cancelled,’ just put on hold until we’re through the thick of this pandemic. We adapt as we learn. That has been our mantra throughout this pandemic, and as is true in every other facet of life, we know this virus is of most concern when people are indoors with high contact, especially in vigorous situations that bring about heavy breathing – like in wrestling, hockey and basketball. Life in a pandemic is hard for everyone, and it’s hard for all of our kids, whether or not they play sports. That doesn’t make it any easier – but we really are all in this together.”

The youth sports guidance puts sports into three risk levels, lower, medium, or higher, based on the amount of contact between athletes and their proximity during play. The guidance sets four levels of play allowed based on current public health conditions. In all levels, some form of play is allowed ranging from practice and trainings in level 1 to tournaments and conference play in level 4.

    In level 1, only no-contact practices and training are allowed.
    In level 2, intra-team scrimmages are allowed with parental consent for minors but there can be no competitive play.
    In level 3 intra-conference, intra-EMS-region or intra-league play is allowed and there may be state- or league-championship games allowed for low-risk sports only.
    In level 4, tournaments, out-of-conference/league play, and out-of-state play are allowed. Championship games would also be allowed in level 4.

Based on current conditions, lower risk sports can be played at levels 1, 2, and 3. Medium risk sports can be played at levels 1 and 2, and higher risk sports can be played at level 1.

The updated guidance moves basketball from medium risk to high risk due to the close contact of players and indoor play. Wrestling and hockey continue to be categorized as high risk as well. Cheer and dance will be categorized as lower risk, only if masking and distance are enforced. Low risk sports like bowling, gymnastics, swimming and diving will be permitted to play during winter.

“The science, as we know it right now, applies in all situations,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “The more people you are in contact with, the longer you are together, and the closer you are together, the greater your risk of getting COVID-19. Being face to face with another person for a basketball or football game puts players at higher risk of getting and spreading the virus. Right now, cases across Illinois and the country are increasing.”

Similar to other guidance, sports organizations should make temperature checks available and participants and coaches should monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and should not participate if they are experiencing illness. If multiple individuals have symptoms or test positive, coaches or organizations should alert their local health department. Sports organizers or coaches also must maintain attendance logs of participants for contact tracing purposes. Masks should be worn by everyone in attendance. Spectator limits should follow mitigation occupancy limits in each region. For Tier One mitigation that limits spectators to 25 people or less. For Tier Two mitigations no spectators should be allowed.

Athletic equipment such as bats and hockey sticks should be cleaned between each use. Other equipment, including personal gear such as hockey, football, lacrosse, or other sports using helmets, pads, or gloves should only be used by one person and not shared. Coaches should limit access to locker rooms as much as possible.

Illinois first issued guidelines for youth and recreational sports in late May when every region in the state advanced to Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois plan, marked by return to work, the reopening of retail as well as the return of specific recreational activities. The latest guidelines make adjustments to temporarily halt competitive play for most higher to medium-risk sports pending further health progress, as well as to provide additional clarity on capacity limits and high school sports.

A full list of the winter safety guidelines can be found on the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) website at https://dceocovid19resources.com/restore-illinois/.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

27 Comments
  1. - Ok - Tuesday, Oct 27, 20 @ 3:53 pm:

    There goes my ultimate frisbie tournament. Thanks Covid.


  2. - Radio Gone - Tuesday, Oct 27, 20 @ 4:12 pm:

    Your local radio station will go bankrupt under this plan. High school sports provides significant revenue for small stations. Kiss them goodbye.


  3. - OneMan - Tuesday, Oct 27, 20 @ 4:15 pm:

    This is not going to go over well.

    Also, no state basketball tournament (if it comes to that) is going to cause all sorts of budget issues for the IHSA.


  4. - jimbo - Tuesday, Oct 27, 20 @ 4:26 pm:

    ~~This is not going to go over well~~

    Agreed. I imagine the parents I heard complaining about their kid not having sports “while basketball gets to” are going to be shocked this didn’t play out the way they thought


  5. - CIC - Tuesday, Oct 27, 20 @ 4:33 pm:

    Hopefully, surrounding states will continue to provide opportunities to participate in basketball safely similar to what they did over summer and fall.

    Leadership in surrounding states were able to get through a HS football season without significant COVID related issues. Wish Illinois would look to them for guidance on what worked for them.


  6. - Eastside - Tuesday, Oct 27, 20 @ 4:36 pm:

    Football is a Catholic/private school dominated sport. Basketball is a CPS dominated sport. Impacting much different constituencies.


  7. - Sick of This - Tuesday, Oct 27, 20 @ 4:41 pm:

    But all the states around us can play all the sports they want without any restrictions. Hmmm. This is ridiculous.


  8. - Jed Bartlett - Tuesday, Oct 27, 20 @ 4:44 pm:

    Mortality rate for age 15-24yo = .001%, for 5-14yo it’s .0001%. If you have at risk people in your household, don’t participate.


  9. - Pundent - Tuesday, Oct 27, 20 @ 4:46 pm:

    =Leadership in surrounding states were able to get through a HS football season without significant COVID related issues.=

    Wisconsin has a positivity rate of 28% and the Big 10 team in Madison may be down to their 4th string quarterback. Notre Dame has had to repeatedly reschedule games due to outbreaks.
    And you somehow think that high schools can pull this off without significant issues?


  10. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 27, 20 @ 4:48 pm:

    === But all the states around us can play all the sports they want without any restrictions. Hmmm. This is ridiculous.===

    Your beef isn’t with Pritzker, it’s with Trump.

    The President made it clear.

    The governors are in charge. Different states, different governors.

    I’d call the White House.

    To the post,

    Again with sports… my concern is how we can do anything safely, and that includes coaches, referees, officials, schools…

    The first thing we need to ask should be about safety not “why aren’t we… “


  11. - Pundent - Tuesday, Oct 27, 20 @ 4:50 pm:

    =Mortality rate for age 15-24yo = .001%, for 5-14yo it’s .0001%.=

    You don’t seem to grasp the concept of “community spread.” And as we’ve seen repeatedly with 15-24 year old’s they show little willingness to change their behaviors to better protect the community at large.


  12. - Prudent reply - Tuesday, Oct 27, 20 @ 4:56 pm:

    So hey. ND rescheduled one game. Wisconsin is in the b10 and THEIR guidelines are super stringent (sit out 21 days). If the QB was in the SEC all he would need is 3 straight tests of negative. I get the abundance of caution. Problem is, it’s not being mandated at a federal level. Therefore, different governors are handling it differently. Who’s right and who’s wrong? Depends which blog you’re commenting on. I think the one thing we can all agree on: after over 7 months of this, it is dividing people and causing a lot angst. And this comes from a National lack of leadership, I don’t care which party is in the White House.


  13. - CIC - Tuesday, Oct 27, 20 @ 4:59 pm:

    === And you somehow think that high schools can pull this off without significant issues?

    Yes, HS football is going on all over the country with adjustments for safety based on science and data.


  14. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 27, 20 @ 5:03 pm:

    === HS football is going on all over the country with adjustments for safety based on science and data.===

    … and all over the country, state after state are recording upticks, some states upticks matching heights of the spring…

    … but please, let’s have sports… “it is what it is”

    The sheer lack of looking out for each other is depressing… “but sports”


  15. - Pundent - Tuesday, Oct 27, 20 @ 5:08 pm:

    =I think the one thing we can all agree on: after over 7 months of this, it is dividing people and causing a lot angst.=

    Rich showed a survey a couple of weeks ago and it showed that over 60% thought that HS sports as a bad idea. So I would suggest that maybe the divide isn’t what you think it is. The absence of HS football and basketball causes me no angst. Sports are extracurricular living isn’t it.


  16. - Jed Bartlett - Tuesday, Oct 27, 20 @ 5:13 pm:

    = You don’t seem to grasp the concept of “community spread.” And as we’ve seen repeatedly with 15-24 year old’s they show little willingness to change their behaviors to better protect the community at large.=

    Thanks for making my point. Time to stop


  17. - iThi - Tuesday, Oct 27, 20 @ 5:13 pm:

    —-Football is a Catholic/private school dominated sport. Basketball is a CPS dominated sport. Impacting much different constituencies. —

    Huh? In the collars where we live, the large suburban schools are very competitive/better the Catholics in football with the exception of Naz and Mt. Carmel. They are also competitive with basketball.

    Regardless, what does “constituency” have to do with safety?


  18. - CIC - Tuesday, Oct 27, 20 @ 5:18 pm:

    ===The sheer lack of looking out for each other is depressing… “but sports”

    You have not cornered the market on empathy. Like everyone else, I have family and friends covering all age groups and spectrum of medical conditions. I am concerned about their safety and the safety of those in my community.

    The article is LITERALLY about sports. I made a comment on sports… “but sports”


  19. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 27, 20 @ 5:29 pm:

    === is LITERALLY about sports. I made a comment on sports… “but sports”===

    The take I have is clear;

    The mere fact sports, extra curricular activities, are a concern… what are the real concerns… non-conference schedules?

    I know what I wrote, exactly as I wrote it.


  20. - Just wondering - Tuesday, Oct 27, 20 @ 6:25 pm:

    Preface to say I’m a Pritzker fan and believe in these mitigations…with the exception of “little guys” hockey as Level 1/high risk. 14 and under are not allowed to check. They can wear both masks and helmets and go to medium risk. The science that was cited was an adult league with checking and no mouth/nose covering. All hockey isn’t the same.


  21. - RDB - Tuesday, Oct 27, 20 @ 7:05 pm:

    ===Your local radio station will go bankrupt under this plan.===

    Both WGCY in my hometown of Gibson City and WRMJ in Aledo are airing replays of classic broadcasts from over the years. I know all of WGCY’s regular sports advertisers signed up for the “classic broadcast” advertising package, so this is not a death sentence for them. Other stations will also find ways to adapt.


  22. - Mr. Hand - Tuesday, Oct 27, 20 @ 7:06 pm:

    Pritzker not in an easy situation and obviously postponing the winter sports season will not be the only mitigation made.

    However, it is not based on science (really data). As High School sports has not caused an increase in cases.

    https://www.channel3000.com/uw-study-high-school-sports-have-not-spread-the-coronavirus/

    As for the coaches, refs, administrators, etc. that we need to think about. 95% of High school coaches were in favor of starting the season on time.

    https://www.journal-topics.com/articles/ibca-basketball-survey-shows-most-want-winter-season/

    Refs are contract workers and make that decision based on a number of factors and school boards and administrators can opt out of a season at any given time, if they think it is too much danger for those involved in their area.

    Then, there are their parents/players that choose not to participate because the risk factor might be too great.

    To say that participating in these sports will increase community spread is not following the data. However, with the substantial increase in rates more mitigations are on the horizon, so it makes sense not to lessen restrictions in one area.


  23. - Pundent - Tuesday, Oct 27, 20 @ 7:54 pm:

    The NBA shut down after a handful of positive tests and only resumed when they could do so in a bubble. But go on and tell me with rising case counts why we should have HS basketball? And coaches want it isn’t an argument.


  24. - Mr. Hand - Tuesday, Oct 27, 20 @ 8:24 pm:

    ===The NBA shut down after a handful of positive tests and only resumed when they could do so in a bubble.===

    Interesting argument. The NBA, the same organization, that just finished their season two weeks ago, right? The same NBA who announced this week they want to start their season by Christmas and outside of the bubble. That’s with COVID # escalating throughout the country.

    https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/30175581/sources-nba-eyes-pre-christmas-start-72-game-regular-season

    Coaches wanting it is not the argument. Worrying about the health of coaches who are making the conscious decision to willing participate should not be factored in the decision play or not.

    Also, not apart of the argument is how HS sports contributes to the spread. See above.

    So, whether to play or not purely comes down to the fact that we are in the midst of pandemic. Fair enough. Don’t play, but Pritzker could lay this whole thing to rest by just saying no high school sports this year. The people that have to see little Johnny can play can make arrangements elsewhere to do so. That also would alleviate him from having to answer the question of when will HS sports happen.


  25. - Live free - Tuesday, Oct 27, 20 @ 8:56 pm:

    Unfortunately we have leaders who are playing checkers instead of chess. The latest data shows that certain demographics are just not going to follow guidance. We need to adapt to reality, not persisting with the same failed policies. Keeping high school kids occupied in organized sports with mask and distancing guidelines with coaches whose livelihood rests on keeping them healthy might not be a bad alternative to the unsupervised gatherings that are helping drive the recent spike.

    Breaking regions up by smaller areas with declining cases and positivity rates under 4% and requiring an ID address check with approved zip codes for entry or reservations might allow businesses in localities that are keeping their numbers down to survive.

    Unfortunately we have elected leadership that can’t play at that level.


  26. - OneMan - Tuesday, Oct 27, 20 @ 10:16 pm:

    == Mortality rate for age 15-24yo = .001%, for 5-14yo it’s .0001%. If you have at risk people in your household, don’t participate.==

    Jed, I am assuming you are headed over to the IHSA website and getting ready for your basketball officials test (hey, no risk to kids, no risk to you as well).


  27. - Cool Papa Bell - Tuesday, Oct 27, 20 @ 11:37 pm:

    So in Michigan they make you play hockey with a mask/face covering on. Why not begin that way in Illinois?

    No fans, everyone with a mask and go for it. Indoor dining is traced back to 50% of cases per the CDC. Neither is essential. But you sure can’t eat with a mask on but you can play basketball, hockey or volleyball with one.

    I’d move forward with practices and games within a region following those guidelines and then circle back with metrics to continue or not.

    We’ve decided to go head and see how some stuff works out - why not these HS sports? I really think when considering all the levels of risk playing - masked up - is a nearly as safe as not. And if in 60 days the data says it not, shut it down.


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