February football will not just be limited to the Super Bowl. It’ll be coming to many Illinois high school football fields in 2021.
The IHSA Board announced Wednesday that the 2020-2021 sports calendar will be significantly altered, with football, boys soccer and girls volleyball moving to the Spring 2021 season, in conjunction with Governor J.B. Pritzker's guidelines on COVID-19 safety protocol.
Boys and girls golf, girls tennis, boys and girls cross country and girls swimming and diving will play this fall. The season gets underway Aug. 10.
The winter sports schedule, which begins Nov. 16 and runs to Feb. 13, includes boys and girls basketball, wrestling, boys swimming and diving, competitive cheerleading, competitive dance, boys and girls bowling and girls gymnastics. Contests can begin on Nov. 30.
In spring season, which begins Feb. 15, football, boys soccer, girls volleyball, girls badminton, boys gymnastics and boys and girls water polo. Contests begin Mar. 1
The summer sports season, which starts May 3 and goes to June 26, includes baseball, softball, boys and girls track and field, girls soccer, boys volleyball, boys and girls lacrosse and boys tennis. Contests begin May 17.
“I applaud our Board of Directors for choosing a model that allows every student-athlete the opportunity for a modified season,” IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said in a statement. “This plan, like nearly every aspect of our current lives, remains fluid. Changes may come, and if they do, we will be agile while putting safety and students first.”
Pritzker announced a series of restrictions on high school sports, travel clubs, park district leagues and other adult recreational sports programs earlier this afternoon.
The guidelines, which go into effect on Aug. 15, will place sports into three risk levels: low, medium and high based on the amount of contact between athletes and their proximity during practices and game competition.
Lower-risk sports include badminton, baseball (if players can be at least six feet apart in dugouts or in bleachers; otherwise considered medium-risk), bass fishing (if room on boat permits social distancing), bowling, cross country (if teams are limited), golf, gymnastics, softball (same rules as baseball), swimming and diving (single lanes/single diving, no relays; otherwise it’s medium-risk), tennis and track and field (if delayed starts, every other lane and cleaning of equipment between usage otherwise medium-rosh).
Medium-risk sports include basketball, flag football/7-on-7 football, soccer, volleyball, water polo and wheelchair basketball.
High-risk sports include competitive cheerleading, competitive dance, football, hockey, lacrosse and wrestling.
In tandem with those guidelines, the measures also dictate four additional levels by which these sports can be played based on current public health statue, with level 1 allowing only no-contact outdoor practices and level 2 allowing intra-team scrimmages (but not competitive play). In level 3, intra-conference and intra-league play is allowed, with the possibility of state championship games for low-risk sports. Level 4 is with the least amount of restrictions, where inter-conference and interstate competition can occur, along with the other state championship games.
Lower risk sports are currently allowed to play in the first three levels, medium-risk sports are allowed to play in the first two levels and the high-risk sports are first-level only.
The 2019-20 IHSA calendar was thrust into uncertainty back on March 12 when the 1A and 2A boys basketball state finals were called off, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. It was soon followed by the cancellation of the 3A and 4A boys hoops and the rest of the IHSA spring sports calendar.