By Travis Volz
The prospect for a winter basketball season is in question following disagreement between the Illinois High School Association and the Illinois Department of Public Health.
The IHSA Board of Directors released safety guidelines following a special meeting held last week, just one day after the IDPH changed the classification of basketball to high risk. That change could affect whether the season is played.
Players, coaches, administrators and school boards are still discussing the details, but a broad outline of the season, as well as safety restrictions to reduce the chance of exposure to the virus, were released following the IHSA Board meeting last Wednesday.
Seasons will be shortened for boys’ and girls’ basketball seasons, gym capacities will be capped, and players, coaches and officials will be required to wear masks, according to the guidelines released following the meeting.
Teams will not be allowed to practice before November 16, and games will not be played before November 30 this season. In normal years, practices begin weeks earlier and games begin in the week before Thanksgiving.
In addition to pushing back the start of prep basketball, the regular season will conclude on February 6, with a postseason event scheduled to wrap up the season by February 13.
Between the late start and early conclusion, the basketball season will be shortened by three to four weeks compared with a normal year.
Along with the shorter season, gym capacities will be severely limited. According to IHSA guidelines, only 50 people will be allowed in gymnasiums during games, including players, coaches, officials, scorer’s table personel, security and game management, cheerleaders, fans and media.
Those limits will be strictly enforced, as will mask requirements. Players, coaches, officials and fans will be required to wear masks during games.
Travel will also be limited for teams. Games will only be played within teams’ confereces or COVID regions.
In games play will also be tweaked a bit. Tipoff will be eliminated, with the visiting team possessing the ball first and alternating possession arrows after that. Due to the mask requirement, an additional media timeout will be added during the first dead ball under the 5-minute mark to allow for players to catch their breath.
Read the full article in this week’s issue.