* Background is here if you need it. NBC 5…
On the eve of a special IHSA board meeting to announce new details about the fate of the winter high school sports season, Illinois health officials have moved basketball from being classified as a “moderate risk” sport to the “higher risk” category.
According to new guidelines released by the Illinois Department of Public Health, the department assessed the risk for transmission associated with basketball, and found that it should be classified as a “higher risk” activity. […]
While it isn’t clear what that could mean for the winter basketball season, some clarity could be coming, as the IHSA will host a special board meeting on Wednesday to provide updates on its various winter sports, and to vote on the path forward for those activities.
Winter high school sports seasons in Illinois were “put on hold” Tuesday by Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Practice for boys and girls basketball seasons were expected to begin Nov. 16, with games to be played as early as Nov. 30.
But the IDPH moved basketball from medium risk to high risk on its website Tuesday, and under current conditions in the coronavirus pandemic, high-risk sports are allowed only no-contact practices.
* IHSA statement…
Craig Anderson, IHSA Executive Director:
“About 15 minutes prior to Governor Pritzker’s press conference today, we were alerted that the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has elevated the sport of basketball from a medium risk level to a high risk level. We remain considerate of the recent rise in positive COVID-19 cases in our state. However, in our meeting with IDPH on Friday (October 23), we felt that we presented multiple options that would allow for basketball to be conducted safely by IHSA schools this winter, many of which are being utilized in neighboring states who plan to play high school basketball. Despite that setback, there is some positive news, as IDPH accepted the IHSA’s mitigations related to other sports, including cheerleading and dance, allowing them to move from a medium risk level to a low risk level. We will hold our special Board of Directors meeting on October 28 as scheduled, where our Board will provide direction on the other winter sports, as well as discuss the IHSA sports schedule for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year.”
Later Tuesday, the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association released its own statement in response to Pritzker’s announcement, with the organization’s Twitter account posting that the IBCA is “very disappointed to learn of (Tuesday’s) decision by the governor and IDPH.”
“Our data suggests that the spread of this virus has been minimal inside our gyms among our student-athletes and coaches,” the IBCA statement reads.
The aforementioned data comes from a survey sent out by the group to the state’s basketball coaches that tabulated both the use of summer and fall contact days and the number of positive COVID-19 tests in programs.
“The health and safety of our student-athletes will always be a primary consideration of our coaches,” the statement reads. “But we have not been given specific information as to why basketball has been elevated to “High Risk” in Illinois. … The lack of transparency is incredibly frustrating for all of us who simply want to enjoy playing the game of basketball in our home state of Illinois.
“We strongly urge the governor and IDPH to re-evaluate their decision to move basketball to the “High Risk” category and to provide clarity with the metrics used to drive these decisions.”
* Bucky Dent…
This is not to criticize Pritzker for using science and data to make his decisions. He’s been very consistent on that over the last 7 ½ months. And you’d rather see someone err on the side of caution in a pandemic.
But you can’t blame players, coaches and administrators around the state for feeling as though Pritzker dealt them the stick’s short end again. It’s also not unfair to say that the lines of communication between Pritzker and the IHSA could stand to be much better.
If it looks like Pritzker has upstaged the IHSA in order to get his way, well, you know what they say.
Perception for some is reality.
* Prep Basketball Coaches Disappointed Sport Moved to ‘High Risk,’ Await IHSA Decision Wednesday
* Local coaches react to Gov. Pritzker, IDPH release of new winter sport guidelines
* Coaches upset with basketball’s upgrade to high-risk sport