The IHSA Board of Directors met virtually Monday and approved updates to the IHSA's Return to Activities guidelines, waiving the 2020-21 season limitations for winter, spring and summer sports that would have restricted those sports to no more than two contests a week.
Additionally, the summer season will begin two weeks earlier than initially announced. Summer sports, including baseball, softball, track and field, girls soccer, lacrosse and boys tennis now can begin practices April 19 and games May 3.
The winter, spring and summer seasons will revert to their normal season game limitations, as dictated by IHSA bylaws.
“We have preached that this school year will be fluid, and the changes made by the Board today are a good example of that,” IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said in a news release.
“When the IHSA’s initial Return To Activities guidelines were established, the limitation of two contests per week felt like a constraint that would help limit exposure. However, given how well our state is handling the pandemic, and the lack of setbacks in the fall sports we have conducted so far, there was a consensus that we could move forward with allowing schools to schedule winter, spring and summer sports without further restrictions.”
The board also reviewed a request from Highland High School that sought an exemption to IHSA bylaw 3.100, which governs independent team participation. Highland sought an exemption to the rule during the 2020-21 season for volleyball, lacrosse, soccer, baseball and softball, which would allow athletes to simultaneously participate on their IHSA school team and a nonschool team.
The current IHSA bylaw prevents participation on a school and a nonschool team at the same time in the same sport. The board elected not to provide an exemption to the rule.
"There was a lengthy and spirited discussion on if we should provide an exemption to this rule given the unprecedented nature of the school year," Anderson said. "Ultimately, concerns over safety and equity left them uncomfortable with providing an exemption to this rule. They understand it could lead to some difficult decisions between participating on a school or nonschool team.
"Fundamentally, the nature and mission of the IHSA is to provide participation opportunities to all students. The Board agreed that if a student-athlete chooses to leave their school team for a nonschool team, it simply creates an opportunity for another student to step in and fill that role."