Illinois high school student athletes and their parents who are tired of COVID-19 delays in sports are taking matters into their own hands — some are protesting, while others are moving out of state to play elsewhere.
Student athletes, coaches and students’ parents rallied in the dozens in McCook on Sunday to demand fall sports to resume, ABC 7 reported. Only golf, cross country, girls’ tennis and girls’ swimming and diving are playing for now.
Meanwhile, ABC 7 reported that some student athletes and families are moving out of state to play.
The station interviewed Gage Perri, who moved to Colorado from Barrington High School in Illinois to continue playing hockey.
NPR’s David Greene of NPR in August interviewed senior Brett Kuczynski and his mother Denise in a story available here. They moved to their vacation home in Florida so Brett could chase his dream of playing college football. Brett’s father and sister stayed at home in Illinois.
The Illinois High School Association is trying to get Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s attention about the need to resume sports.
In July, the IHSA decided to move some fall sports to the spring while others would continue, after Pritzker announced a plan to restrict youth and adult sports, WMAQ reported. The governor assigned risk levels to each type of sports based on contact between athletes.
The IHSA last week sent Pritzker a letter asking to take control of high school sports, the Chicago Tribune reported.
On Friday, IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson issued a statement to “help clear the air” over the letter he had sent Pritzker and Deputy Governor Ruiz.
“With support from the IHSA Board of Directors, I issued a letter on September 10 to Governor Pritzker and Deputy Governor Ruiz, that seeks permission for the IHSA and its Sports Medicine Advisory Committee to resume control over determining the resumption of IHSA sports and activities. However, the content of that letter has been greatly misconstrued on social media in a short amount of time. There have been no discussions, let alone proposed timelines, for resuming any sports at this time. Should our office receive a positive response from government officials, it could result in the IHSA reexamining its previously released season schedules, as well as postseason schedules, for the 2020-21 school year.
It is important to note that, under the leadership of Governor Pritzker, Illinois has attained one of the lowest COVID-19 infection rates in the country. Additionally, several surrounding states have successfully conducted sports categorized as medium and high risk here in Illinois, and we believe sports and activities are safest when conducted under the IHSA safety protocols by school personnel. Those combined factors led us to issue this letter, and we will respectfully await response to it.
The IHSA is not involved in any planned protests this weekend related to high school sports. If protests occur, we encourage all attendees to be safe, smart and respectful.”
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.