Can IHSA basketball be played in the spring? 'That’s a big issue’
PEORIA — The Illinois High School Association is hoping to have a meaningful dialogue with representatives from the governor's office and Illinois Department of Public Health when its board convenes again on Nov. 19.
Those three organizations hope to share data, share power, and work toward an agreement in how to handle the 2020-21 high school basketball season.
If all sides can't find common ground, then the IHSA board will have another big item on its agenda to consider.
What happens if schools choose not to play in the IHSA’s winter season — a recent IHSA survey reported nearly 300 of 547 schools won’t play — and then want to play later in a spring season that only the governor says will happen?
Will the IHSA allow anyone to play in the spring?
That’s what Nov. 19 is really all about.
"The IHSA board will have to decide whether or not to maintain our plan (a winter season), grant a spring basketball season, or create an alternate season," IHSA executive director Craig Anderson said Wednesday night. "That's a part of what will be discussed in our meeting Nov. 19.
“That's a big issue, and it has to be determined by the board."
The hope for a seat at the table with the governor's office and IDPH, meanwhile, is ongoing. The IHSA feels it should have been there all along.
"That is what we dealt with in the fall," Anderson said. "From our board's perspective, that's why we wanted to be able to have a conversation with the governor and IDPH.
"There is continued pushing toward in-person school teaching formats, yet when it comes to sports, it's problematic?"
The IHSA in late October announced basketball practices would start on Monday, and games on Nov. 30. It's been a tug-of-war ever since, with the state declaring no basketball season, then revising that to ordering basketball be moved to the spring, to the IHSA standing its ground and letting school districts choose to opt in or out.
On Wednesday, the IHSA directed schools to limit themselves to no-contact training basketball practices — per state guidelines — until its Nov. 19 board meeting.
"The Board recognizes the difficult decisions they have placed on member schools regarding basketball," Anderson said in a statement earlier Wednesday. “... The board hopes to create a dialogue and build a more collaborative relationship with all the entities involved with developing sports policy in our state as everyone tries to navigate the myriad issues caused by the pandemic.
"The board’s decision to move forward with the IHSA basketball season was not meant to be adversarial. It was rooted in a desire to receive more direct communication and data from our state partners."
Dave Eminian is the Journal Star sports columnist, and covers the Rivermen and Chiefs. He writes the Cleve In The Eve sports column for pjstar.com. Reach him at 686-3206 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @icetimecleve.