With fall sports out of the way, schools had to turn their attention towards winter sports. The IHSA held a meeting on October 28, 2020. They announced that wrestling will be moved from the winter to the summer. The IHSA has had to make these kinds of decisions regularly, categorizing certain sports as either “low risk,” “medium risk,” or “high risk.” Sports in the “low risk” category include boys swimming, cheerleading, dance, boys and girls bowling, and girls’ gymnastics. “Medium risk” sports include volleyball, fencing, paintball, and water polo. And “high risk” sports include boxing, martial arts, football, hockey, and lacrosse. Because of the unpredictability of Covid-19, the IHSA will continue to review the possibility of sports happening or not or moving them back seasons.
Basketball, probably the most looked-forward-to winter sport, was still being heavily reviewed in late October through most of November. The IHSA and Governor Pritzker were at odds with each other whether basketball was going to happen in the winter or not. On October 27th, Pritzker announced that he categorized basketball as “high risk,” even though the IHSA already called it “medium risk.” The IHSA was looking into ways on how to make the sport safer so Covid-19 cases would not skyrocket. The IHSA released a statement saying that they were moving forward with basketball, defying Pritzker’s caution. Because of this, Pritzker announced that ALL winter sports will be moved from the spring to the summer. The IHSA finally complied and, on November 19, announced that that they will be postponing winter sports starting on November 20. Starting on December 2nd, they will go back to reviewing the possibility of winter sports happening, and the IHSA scheduled a second meeting on December 14 to review again, if necessary.
Speaking with the senior athletes of the school, they were all looking forward to their final seasons. “I was definitely excited to play my senior year,” says senior Erik Hill, who is a starter on varsity boys’ basketball. “I was looking forward to finishing my senior year playing some of the best basketball of my life with my good friends.” Due to the pandemic, it has shown a lot of people not to take certain things for granted, like family and friends; in this case, athletes have learned this lesson about their sport. Eric Ramos, a senior member on the boys’ bowling team, had much to say about the subject: “Yes, COVID has shown me not to take certain things for granted. It has shown me to expect the unexpected. Only time can tell when this pandemic will end and when we can go back to our normal lives.”
It is not just the senior athletes who are missing out on winter sports; underclassmen are also missing out on pivotal team bonding experiences, especially the freshman. Speaking with freshman Nolan Pomeroy, he was excited to start his first year of basketball, but the pandemic quickly turned that ambition around: “Yes I was [excited for basketball]. I thought it would be a great opportunity to get to know people, while having fun.” With the IHSA moving basketball to the spring/summer, that means players will be able to experience playing their high school sport in the warmer weather, which is new territory for most players. Nolan thinks otherwise: “I would like it to go back to normal, because of the weather. I don’t see a big problem with pushing them back.”