When IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson spoke to the media on July 29 about how the 2020-21 high school sports season would be laid out amid the COVID-19 pandemic, he acknowledged “there was a concern about overlapping some sports with sports that would be out of their ordinary season.”
That was part of the justification for pushing some sports deemed lower risk by the Illinois Department of Public Health to a new summer format from April 19 through June 26 — events such as baseball, softball, track and field and boys’ tennis. Now, it’s looking as if that decision may backfire in the IHSA’s face.
That’s because the winter sports season is being shaken up as COVID-19 cases rise throughout the state. Wrestling already has been shifted from a Nov. 16-Feb. 13 timeline to the aforementioned summer schedule, and basketball is in flux as the IHSA and Gov. J.B. Pritzker disagree about its safety. With football, volleyball and boys’ soccer all running from Feb. 15-May 1 and the governor desiring a spring basketball season, it seems as if overlap has gone from possible back in July to inevitable here in November.
Could this have been avoided? It seems likely, although that overlap still would have created difficult decisions for some kids. But holding baseball, softball and track and field in the fall seems like a play the IHSA might wish it had went with. Golf and girls’ swimming and diving could have taken place in the fall as well, with cross-country moved to spring or summer to avoid overlap with track.
Tennis is in an odd spot, because contesting the girls’ and boys’ seasons at the same time isn’t really feasible.
With these adjustments, some of the athletes who had their 2020 spring seasons canceled could have competed not long afterward. Plus, putting baseball, softball and track earlier in the calendar minimizes the chance of potential conflicts with basketball, wrestling and football.
Would this have been a perfect solution?
No. But it might have eased a few headaches, especially at smaller schools that need athletes to suit up in multiple sports.