Basketball, other winter sports, take a full-court break

  • For now, Glenbrook South boys basketball coach Phil Ralston says he's holding tryouts for teams this year until he can't.

      For now, Glenbrook South boys basketball coach Phil Ralston says he's holding tryouts for teams this year until he can't. John Starks | Staff Photographer, January 2020

  • When Gov. JB Pritzker and public health officials announced a return to Tier 3 COVID-19 mitigations effective Friday, the IHSA also put prep sports seasons on pause.

    When Gov. JB Pritzker and public health officials announced a return to Tier 3 COVID-19 mitigations effective Friday, the IHSA also put prep sports seasons on pause. Daily Herald file photo, November 2018

  • Dance and cheerleading are among the spring sports currently on pause due to Illinois' return to Tier 3 COVID-19 mitigation restrictions that go into effect Friday.

      Dance and cheerleading are among the spring sports currently on pause due to Illinois' return to Tier 3 COVID-19 mitigation restrictions that go into effect Friday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 11/18/2020 1:33 AM

Glenbrook South boys basketball coach Phil Ralston may be able to predict the future.

In this case that's unfortunate.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"For the time being we're still having tryouts until we're told we can't," Ralston said after Monday's one-and-done practice session.

On Tuesday, the Titans and the rest of the state's winter sports coaches and athletes were told they can't, at least temporarily.

When Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health announced a return to Tier 3 COVID-19 resurgence mitigations effective Friday, the Illinois High School Association acknowledged that prep sports would be put on pause.

Following the status of basketball prior to the planned Nov. 16 start of the IHSA's winter season has been a little like the proverbial "over-and-back" call in line with the coronavirus itself -- steps taken forward, steps taken back.

Initially basketball was listed as a moderate-risk sport, which allowed intra-team scrimmages but no competitive play. One day before the Illinois High School Association was to address winter sports information on Oct. 28, Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health listed basketball as a higher-risk, Level 1 sport, it would be pushed back to spring.

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Perhaps considering results from an Illinois Basketball Coaches Association survey indicating 95% of coaches wanted the season to start on time, the IHSA went ahead with starting basketball on Nov. 16, as well as boys and girls bowling, cheer, dance, girls gymnastics and boys swimming and diving. The first date for contests was scheduled for Nov. 30.

"(T) he Board has not been presented any causal evidence that rising COVID-19 cases make basketball more dangerous to play by the IDPH or any other health organization nationally or internationally," the IHSA stated in its Oct. 28 meeting summary.

The IHSA on Nov. 11 held a virtual update session on basketball. Not a whole lot came out of that, other than the announcement that for its regular board meeting of Nov. 19 the IHSA was inviting representatives of Gov. Pritzker's office, the IDPH, the Illinois Principal's Association, the Illinois Association of School Administrators, the Illinois State Board of Education and some 200 school superintendents.

The intent was "to create a dialogue and build a more collaborative relationship with all the entities involved with developing sports policy in our state," the IHSA said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Also at the Nov. 11 meeting, the IHSA noted that in a survey of its 813 member schools, of the 546 respondents (67%, about par for the course) nearly 300 did not plan to start basketball on Nov. 16 with another 212 uncertain of their status. Concerns over liability and the resurgence of COVID-19 transmission are at the heart of that uncertainty.

"I'm not so naive to think that the season's going to start on Nov. 30, and the window is narrowing for starting in January unless there's some fruitful communication between the IDPH and the IHSA," Ralston said on Monday.

Again, sounding like a seer.

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