IHSA says sports are closer to returning

by Mindy Carls correspondent

Basketball is one step closer to appearing in county high school gyms.

Over last weekend, COVID-19 statistics fell in Region 2 enough for the counties to move to Phase 4 of the state’s pandemic recovery plan.

Established by the Illinois Department of Public Health, Region 2 includes Henry, Rock Island, Stark, Bureau, Mercer, Henderson, Warren and Knox counties.

The Illinois High School Association lists basketball as a medium-risk sport. Although practices were supposed to start in mid-November, the IHSA put the season on pause when COVID-19 cases increased.

With the spread of the disease slowing, the IHSA board was scheduled to meet Wednesday, Jan. 27, to determine new starting dates for basketball and for sports assigned to spring and summer seasons.

The IHSA already gave permission for teams to begin practice in low-risk sports such as bowling, cheerleading, dance, girls gymnastics, boys swimming and diving, although they are waiting for approval of dates to begin competition.

According to the IHSA website on Jan. 25, spring sports include football (higher risk), boys soccer and volleyball (moderate risk) and boys gymnastics (lower risk).

Summer sports with lower risk are baseball, softball, track and field and boys tennis, all lower risk; girls soccer, moderate risk, and wrestling, higher risk.

During Phase 4, teams in high-risk sports can have contests with opponents in the same conference and region. The same goes for indoor events in moderate-risk sports.

Teams participating in outdoor contests in moderate-risk sports can have non-conference and out-of the region, even out-of-state contests. They can compete in tournaments, including the IHSA’s post-season series. The same guidelines apply for low-risk sports.

Scenes like this may be coming soon to a gymnasium near you. Josh Johnson of Orion does a layup.