Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health moved basketball and other winter sports to a high risk category Tuesday, putting the 2020-21 season "on hold."
In a release, Pritzker stated, "As with sports in the fall, nothing is ‘cancelled,’ just put on hold until we’re through the thick of this pandemic."
The modified 2020-21 sports calendar was put into motion earlier this summer, where sports were placed into tiers of low, medium and high risk. Basketball, and other winter sports such as wrestling and hockey, were to begin Nov. 16.
The IHSA reacted to the abrupt announcement.
“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," IHSA executive director Craig Anderson said in a statement.
"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."
Anderson continued, "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."
The Illinois Department of Public Health updated their web site earlier Tuesday reflecting a change in basketball from "moderate" to "higher" risk.
However, the site also states that basketball would be considered "low" risk if participants maintain six feet of distance on the bench.
On October 19, the IHSA Board of Directors set a special meeting date for tomorrow regarding the status of winter sports. Per Anderson, that meeting will continue as scheduled.