Pritzker’s latest announcement likely puts an end to hopes of a basketball season, football holds on by a threadMichael O’Brienon January 15, 2021 at 10:17 pm

Joliet West’s Trent Howland (4) shoots the ball over Curie’s defense.
Joliet West’s Trent Howland (4) shoots the ball over Curie’s defense. | Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

Based on the documents released today and a quote from IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson, there won’t be a basketball season.

Today was confusing. Documents were emailed to media. Websites that allegedly outline the state’s entire sports policy during coronavirus weren’t updated (and then they were). The Illinois High School Association had a last-minute meeting with Deputy Gov. Jesse Ruiz.

We’re still waiting on the full news from that meeting. So far the only thing that is certain is that low-risk sports will be allowed in the regions of the state that moved to Tier 2 today (Rockford, Peoria, southern Illinois).

But if you look closely at one of the documents sent to the media from Pritzker’s office it becomes very clear the outlook for any high school basketball or football this school year is very bleak.

Basketball and football are both high risk sports. According to the chart Pritzker’s office released today (see below), high risk sports will not be allowed to play games in Tier 2 or when things move to Tier 1.

The next rollback step after Tier 1 is called Phase 4. In order for regions to rollback to Phase 4 three things are required:

-Test positivity rate below 6.5% for 3 consecutive days (7-day average).

-Staffed hospital and ICU beds availability greater than 20% for 3 consecutive days (3-day average).

-No sustained increase in COVID patients in hospital (7-day average over 7 of 10 days).

Illinois moved to Phase 4 on June 26, 2020. The state remained there until Pritzker moved the entire state all the way back to Tier 3 on Nov. 20 as COVID-19 spiraled.

Is it possible the state could be back in Phase 4 by March or April? Sure, things are trending well now. But football and basketball were not allowed during Phase 4 in 2020. That means Pritzker would have to change his mind on the Phase 4 rules. If we even get to Phase 4.

“Deputy Governor Ruiz was not clear today about what getting to Phase 4 would mean for the high-risk sports,” IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said. “He indicated that there could be a potential differentiation for football versus basketball because football is outdoors. The new All Sports Policy permitting an adjustment in playing levels going from Tier 2 to Tier 1 makes me think that a move to Phase 4 could create another adjustment, but IDPH or the Governor’s office would need to confirm that.”

Anderson’s quote makes it clear that basketball isn’t happening this school year. Football seems to have a slight chance.

The governor’s office has not responded to a request to confirm what Phase 4 would mean for high-risk sports.

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