PEORIA — Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Thursday he has ordered high school basketball be moved to the spring as he clarified his intentions from two days ago.
The Illinois High School Association stood its ground and said no thanks.
“I don’t think he can back that statement up, that he can let us play in the spring,” IHSA executive director Craig Anderson said. “All the things that are in place with COVID right now that are preventing us from playing medium and high-risk category sports could still be in place in the spring.
“Why would we want to put basketball in the spring or summer season and create the crazy conflicts of athletes overlapping in so many major sports, forcing them to choose, trying to figure out how to make facility space work, trying to manage all those sports we’ve already moved? That won’t work.
“Nothing has changed. We’re still playing. We aren’t playing basketball in the spring or summer. We’ve approved basketball to be played in the winter, and that’s what we are moving ahead with.”
Pritzker on Tuesday announced the Illinois Department of Public Health was moving basketball into a high-risk category and that no games could be played.
The IHSA responded on Wednesday by defying that order and announcing its approval to play the 2020-21 season starting with practices in mid-November.
It turned over the decision on whether to play to local school districts.
Pritzker countered Wednesday night by noting schools that played could be exposed to legal actions if kids got sick. He noted the Illinois Board of Education — which controls funding to public schools — would be expected to follow the IDPH policy.
Pritzker, in his Thursday afternoon news conference updating COVID reports, was asked about basketball and the ongoing battle with the IHSA.
“We had doctors and experts look at what sports we could allow,” Pritzker said. “We want kids to be able to train, to perform their skills, to condition themselves for the sport. … It’s not that we’re trying to shut down their sport or tell them to go home. … Some of these sports, we’ve asked that they be moved to the spring.
“The fact that the IHSA has a different opinion, I’ve known that for some time about different sports. We have talked to them on a frequent basis, gotten their opinions on each one of these things. I think most importantly it’s going to be incumbent upon the schools to make decisions themselves …”
Anderson on Thursday said the IHSA’s decision to play was based on an interpretation of dialogue with the IDPH and governor’s office.
“We came to our conclusions after they moved basketball to high-risk,” Anderson said. “We asked (IDPH) Dr. Ngozi Ezike to share her metrics involved in that decision. She said no. She couldn’t share it with us.
“We’re still playing.”
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 email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @icetimecleve.
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October 29, 2020 at 05:14PM