High schools now have a plan to hold contests during the pandemic. But parents and fans should be prepared that there will be few opportunities to attend events under current restrictions.
Craig Anderson, executive director of the Illinois High School Association, understands.
Largely responsible for the plan the board of directors approved on Wednesday, his own son is a student-athlete at Morton.
"I’m a parent myself of a three-sport athlete," he said on Wednesday in a Q&A with members of the news media. "It’s discouraging. I may not be able to attend or watch. I reflect with every parent on how difficult that will be."
Under Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois revitalization effort, indoor gatherings are limited to 50 persons. For even a dual-school indoor activity, players, coaches and support staff account for most of that. There is more leeway for outdoors events; stadiums can be filled to 20 percent of their capacity so long as social distancing can be maintained.
Anderson said he hopes member schools that are eligible avail themselves of the Pixellot camera program through the National Federation of High School Associations. These are twin camera devices that can be used to stream broadcasts of games and events. Schools that do not already have one can apply, Anderson said.
The NFHS Network is a streaming service that carries many high school events. An annual pass is being offered at $69.99, which is a 47% discount. A monthly pass if available for $10.99 a month. Schools do receive a share of the subscription fee.
Anderson said sports specific guidelines will be developed by the IHSA’s various advisory committees, starting with the fall sports.
"Gathering limits make a lot of this very difficult," Anderson said. "Fifty inside is challenge enough."
Anderson emphasized that providing students with opportunities to compete is the priority at this stage. Everything else is secondary.
"We want to see kids practice and compete. But our primary obligation is to our membership," he explained. "The spectator thing comes last."