The boys and girls high school basketball seasons are on in Illinois, opening the door for other high contact sports to play this year — as well as potential lawsuits. […]
“IHSA may have their views of it, but school districts know what the rules are,” Pritzker said. “It’s unfortunate, but [school districts] would probably be taking on legal liability if they went ahead and moved beyond what the state had set as the mitigation standard.”
[IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson] was asked about the risk of lawsuits the IHSA might potentially face.
“You know at some point, I think over the next month or whatever time frame we’ll figure out if this is a legal issue for us as an association or if it is for our schools and then we’ll have to pivot as we’ve been pivoting a number of times throughout this school year.”
It’s probably more about the schools. But we’ll see.
* Joliet Herald-News…
“The problem you are going to have is, even if you have parents sign waivers, if a kid gets [COVID-19] and then goes out and gives it to someone else, you have a potential of a lawsuit against the school district,” [Attorney Terry Ekl] said. “The basis of the lawsuit is they ignored the Illinois Department of Public Health and went ahead and allowed these kids to play.” […]
“There’s a proof issue involved here, but that doesn’t mean the school district is not going to get sued and have to engage in costly defensive litigation,” Ekl said. “Sometimes the cost of litigation exceeds the cost proven to be a damage. You win the case, and you still have to pay the cost of defense, which could be tens of thousands of dollars.” […]
“[Insurance carriers] may very well say to the school district, ‘If the department of public health is saying they are recommending you should not play basketball, and you go ahead and do it, we would negate your insurance coverage,’” Ekl said. “‘We’re telling you right now you should not engage in athletic activities that are in conflict with the Illinois Department of Public Health.’”
Ekl said a group of parents approached him last month about suing the IHSA. He said he researched the matter and ended up turning down the case, which was dismissed by a DuPage County judge Oct. 1.
* Les Winkeler at the Southern Illinoisan…
I covered the courthouse beat in a previous life. The lawsuit will read something like this, “Good ol’ Hometown High fielded a basketball team in the midst of a pandemic, disregarding state medical guidelines. As a result of this negligence, athletes suffered illness, resulting in death.”
And, given the strong, consistent pronouncements of state officials, that’s a difficult argument to refute.
What’s more, the Illinois State Board of Education also Tweeted that due to liability issues schools, should think carefully before plunging ahead with the basketball season.
In terms of standing up for student-athletes, I suppose you could interpret the IHSA’s actions that way. Given the fact that athletes could possibly be exposed to infected individuals by competing with students outside their circle, the organization’s response seems less heroic.
…Adding… I meant to post this and somehow forgot. Sorry…
Chicago Public Schools will likely not play basketball this winter. The CPS sent a memo to schools on Thursday announcing that girls and boys high school and elementary school basketball is postponed until further notice and possibly moved to the spring or summer of 2021.
“While the Illinois High School Association has not removed high school basketball from its winter sports calendar, [Gov. J.B. Pritzker] and [the Illinois Department of Public Health] have determined that basketball presents a greater risk of COVID-19 transmission and is not safe to play this winter,” the email from CPS said.