Just days after the Illinois High School Associated gave coaches, schools and athletes the thumbs up to move on to Stage 2, later renamed to Phase 4 of the Return to Play Guidelines, the IHSA made revisions to that same plan.
“Due to an increase in positive cases of COVID-19 among high school teams around the state, the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) and Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) are jointly collaborating to modify the IHSA’s Phase 4 Return To Play Guideline,” said the IHSA in a press release.
“The modifications place greater restrictions on coaches and student-athletes in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Important changes include limiting physical contact and an increased usage of masks. The former restricts schools from conducting contests against other schools in most sports, including 7-on-7 in football. The IHSA is working with IDPH to update the guidelines, and will send to its membership, the media, and post on the web as soon as they are approved.”
However, the inconsistency between sports not affiliated with a particular school, such as town sports leagues and travel and the guidelines school sports teams have to follow has left coaches wondering why there’s a difference in the first place.
“As soon as the youth sports for the governor’s plan, that the same public health department approved, as soon as they follow the same plans as the school sports have to follow, then they will have some credibility,” said Effingham head football coach Brett Hefner. “But two teams can go to Evergreen Park and play a baseball game, and no coach has to wear a mask and no kid has to wear a mask.
“But all of a sudden if it’s a high school IHSA event everybody has to wear a mask. Well now you lose some credibility because you’ve got different sets of rules for different sets of people. But my daughter can go to a [club] soccer tryout and nobody wears a mask, it’s either you do or don’t.”
While the IHSA made revisions to the guidelines in just a matter of days, it’s important to remember they can make revisions going the other way just as swiftly.