The Show Must Go On

On Wednesday, July 29, the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) announced its plan for the 2020-21 school year. Although IHSA did not cancel fall sports, unprecedented scheduling and guideline changes were made concerning the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, leaving athletes with mixed emotions.


In IHSA’s plan, higher risk fall sports such as football were moved to the spring. However, sports that were classified as lower risk: cross country, girls tennis, golf, and girls swimming are scheduled to start on August 10. Competitions will be limited to conference opponents and other schools in the same geographical area; moreover, each school will make their scheduling decision. 


“This plan, like nearly every aspect of our current lives, remains fluid,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “Changes may come, and if they do, we will be agile while putting safety and students first.”


While the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has yet to approve of IHSA’s plans, sports-specific guidelines related to COVID-19 were released for the fall sports season. In general, social distancing and face-coverings will always be required when athletes are not engaged in practice, competition, or other demanding activities.


The IHSA decision not to cancel fall sports was regarded as a victory for most, but others are worried about guideline restrictions and the possibility of sudden cancellation due to an outbreak.


“I sort of wished he canceled everything. For me, I feel like there’s no point [in] doing a high school sport if we can’t go all out like we normally do,” Senior Greta Vaitulevicius, a South varsity tennis player said. “I had my hopes up for a strong senior year […], but with everything going on I’ve lost my drive to go the extra mile for a sport that may or may not happen.”


With schools finalizing their plan for the 2020-21 school year, returning fall athletes such as Vina Robelo remain optimistic about the near future of fall sports.


“Although the season will be different, I am still excited to see my teammates and [will] support them through this process,” Robelo said. “I will put my 100% effort into this year and won’t let this pandemic give me an excuse to not try as hard.”