Game on: IHSA sports including football, hoops set to return


Are you ready for some football?

How about basketball? Wrestling?

At long last, there is a resolution.

The IHSA Wednesday announced an abbreviated 2021 sports calendar, which includes start dates for several sports, including football, boys and girls basketball and wrestling.

As noted above, football, for instance, will begin practices Wed. Mar. 3. Games can begin Fri. Mar. 19. The season will end, without a state championship session, Sat. Apr. 24. Boys and girls basketball seasons can begin immediately. The season would end, ironically, on the same date last season's boys calendar came to a close due to COVID: Mar. 13. 

“We understood the high level of anticipation surrounding today’s announcement, along with the scrutiny that will accompany it,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said in a statement. “Ultimately, the Board adhered to its stated goals throughout the pandemic: providing an opportunity for every IHSA student-athlete to compete safely this year and maximizing opportunities for traditional IHSA spring sports after they lost their entire season a year ago.

Some key takeaways: 

**Regarding practice days: Football will require individuals to participate in practice on 12 different days. All other sports required student athletes to attend seven practices prior to holding a contest. Holding multiple practices on a date will not impact that timeline. Plus, student-athletes who transition from basketball or boys swimming & diving into football will need to participate in practice on 10 different days prior to their first contest.


**Winter sport contests could begin as early as today (Wednesady), dependent on when a school’s Region reached the appropriate mitigation status and when they began practices.

**IHSA guidelines require all student-athletes to participate in masks (with the exception of swimming & diving, gymnasts on an apparatus and outdoor events where social distancing can occur) and for all game personnel not participating in the contest to also wear masks and adhere to social distancing.

**It will ultimately be the local school district's decision on whether its school(s) will play or not.

Wednesday’s decision comes at the end of a grueling roller coaster stretch of cancellations, postponements and other setbacks for Illinois high school athletes and families.

The COVID-19 pandemic effectively ended the 2019-20 IHSA athletic season back on Mar. 13, with the cancellation of the Class 1A and 2A state basketball championships set to take place in Peoria that weekend; the 3A and 4A title games were scrapped the following weekend. Spring sports soon followed.

Certain fall sports, including boys and girls golf, cross country and girls tennis and swimming, played under tight parameters. Football did not.

Gov. Pritzker placed the 2020-21 winter sports season “on hold” back on Oct. 27. Basketball, and other winter sports such as wrestling and hockey, were to start Nov. 16. In September, Pritzker reiterated his stance from July regarding holding off the football season until COVID-19 cases subsided.

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