Illinois winter sports in peril due to COVID restrictions

Sports

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – It looks like COVID-19 and the state of Illinois may sideline some popular winter high school sports.

Basketball was just moved into the higher risk category by the state. Players on those teams and wrestlers would be allowed no-contact practices and training only.

This ruling is from Governor J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health.

“This virus is of most concern when people are indoors with high contact, especially in vigorous situations that bring about heavy breathing, like in wrestling, hockey, and basketball,” Pritzker said.

Edwardsville seniors who play basketball are calling a foul on state leaders.

“I was definitely disappointed,” said senior Caleb Valentine. “I mean, we’ve come a long way and we worked really hard.”

Senior Preston Weaver added: “There’s something about playing sports with your best friend you get a feeling in here.”

Some sports, like bowling and swimming, would have little impact from the health department decision.

Senior Basketball Player Brenna Weller said, “I’m still trying to get a scholarship to play basketball at the next level so it’s a little disappointing to me and my teammates.”

COVID-19 has already messed up the recruiting process.

“Current universities, their players might be given an extra year of eligibility so a lot of coaches that contact us they don’t know how many scholarships they have available because they kept players currently on campus that might be able to come back for an additional year,” said head basketball coach Dustin Battas.

The governor’s order and press release came before a board meeting by the Illinois High School Association. It appears IHSA feels like they’ve been sandbagged.

In a statement, a spokesman said, “We felt that we presented multiple options that would allow for basketball to be conducted safely…” last Friday.

“I feel like there is a way to play,” said senior athlete Jalio Roundtree. “I feel like it can be done and I see both sides also to it.”

Edwardsville Athletic Director Alex Fox said there’s still hope. The IHSA board meets Wednesday and will decide how high school winter sports will deal with COVID-19.

“I’m going to hold on hope for these kids I have to do that,” he said. “The IHSA had mentioned that the Illinois Department of Health provides guidance I hope they’re not the end all be all.”

The governor called the situation a delay in some high school sports.

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