Illinois high school basketball season to start as scheduled despite governor's coronavirus orders

Players, coaches and referees will be required to wear masks

The Illinois High School Association on Wednesday defied Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s coronavirus orders and will begin the upcoming boys and girls basketball seasons as scheduled.

Practices will begin on Nov. 16 and the first games will take place on Nov. 30. Players, coaches and referees will be required to wear masks, as outlined by the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee’s mitigations.

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“We cannot continue to look down the road to a season that may never come,” IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said on a Zoom call, adding that he hasn’t seen evidence that cases were spiking as a result of fall sports that were already taking place. “We're not trying to be adversaries with the governor's office or the Illinois Department of Public Health.”

Teams will be allowed to play a maximum 31 games and each individual school district will be allowed to decide whether or not it plans to participate in the season.

Pritzker warned school districts about ignoring the mitigation standard, saying they “would probably be taking on legal liability if they moved beyond what the state has set.”

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The IHSA’s decision comes a day after Pritzker and the Illinois Health Department announced the upcoming winter sports season was “put on hold” due to the second wave of COVID-19 infections that has swept across the state.

The state declared basketball a “high risk” sport, meaning only non-contact practices would be allowed until the spread of the virus slows.

While basketball will be allowed to proceed, wrestling, another high-risk sport, was moved to the summer season. The status of the ice hockey season was unclear.

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A record 6,116 new COVID-19 cases were announced in the state on Wednesday, in addition to 52 deaths. In total, more than 389,000 Illinoisans have been infected with the virus while 9,619 have died, according to the latest data from the Illinois Department of Public Health.