As basketball season nears, clock keeps ticking to make decisions

  • Hersey's Mary Kate Fahey eyes the basket despite pressure from Carmel's Katie Lach in a regional final game last season. Many schools are in the process of deciding whether to play this winter, against public health guidance, while most schools have decided not to play.

      Hersey's Mary Kate Fahey eyes the basket despite pressure from Carmel's Katie Lach in a regional final game last season. Many schools are in the process of deciding whether to play this winter, against public health guidance, while most schools have decided not to play. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 11/9/2020 2:44 PM

Tick tock.

And no, that's not a new app to compete against TikTok.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Tick tock goes the clock as we are less than a week away from what is supposed to be the start of official practices for boys and girls basketball, boys swimming and diving, girls gymnastics, boys and girls bowling and competitive cheerleading and dance.

With more schools and conferences not playing basketball in accordance with department of health guidelines, we enter the week with a curious mind as to what will happen down the road.

Will any schools decide to proceed with the basketball season as planned, with practices starting Nov. 16 and games Nov. 30? The short answer is yes. The longer answer is yes, but not many.

The Illinois High School Association sent a survey to schools asking that question. Schools were asked to submit answers by noon Tuesday, so on Monday IHSA executive director Craig Anderson said he wasn't in a position to talk about the results, but he acknowledged hearing more schools are opting out.

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"We're going to share the survey numbers with our board of directors this week and they'll have to take a position on moving forward with the season as planned, or whether to modify or move it," Anderson said. "They're conflicted with moving basketball to the spring or summer because of all the conflicts. They may reach a decision to modify the season and start in January. I think it's something to consider.

"If possible, I believe our schools want to play girls and boys basketball in a winter season, even if it's delayed. I believe our board of directors maintain that position. Overlapping girls and boys basketball with a future season will create challenges for students with multiple sport opportunities, along with facility use challenges."

Basketball teams can conduct drills and have conditioning starting Monday, but as a higher-risk sport, that's it.

While some observers think moving basketball to spring or summer is the way to go, others don't.

"The IHSA might have to consider moving badminton to the winter season and splitting boys and girls basketball seasons," said Schaumburg athletic director Marty Manning. "With girls volleyball and boys gymnastics, not every school has the facilities to handle all those sports at the same time, and some may not have enough athletes."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

While basketball appears, for the majority of schools, to be off the docket for the rest of the calendar year, we offer this: The IHSA and IDPH come up with a joint resolution that moves the start of the basketball season to Jan. 4 with a modified schedule of conference/within COVID region games only to begin Jan. 18. Shorten the spring season -- currently Feb. 15 to May 1 -- to March 15 to May 1, then have the summer season May 3 to June 26.

Two things would be accomplished with "Radtke Rules." One, IHSA and IDPH could present a united front. Two, you'd have roughly eight weeks to play basketball and not overlap with spring and summer sports.

"Radtke Rules" only apply if the IDPH moves basketball to a low-risk sport and we don't see that coming anytime soon.

The other winter sports appear to be a go with myriad mitigations to help avoid the spread of the coronavirus.

"We're full steam ahead with all of those unless there's some other guidance that comes out to the contrary," said Barrington AD Mike Obsuszt, echoing the response from many area ADs.

And the clock keeps ticking.

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