Illinois winter sports in peril due to COVID restrictions


EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – It looks like COVID-19 and the state of Illinois may sideline some popular winter high school sports.

Basketball was just moved into the higher risk category by the state. Players on those teams and wrestlers would be allowed no-contact practices and training only.

This ruling is from Governor J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health.

“This virus is of most concern when people are indoors with high contact, especially in vigorous situations that bring about heavy breathing, like in wrestling, hockey, and basketball,” Pritzker said.

Edwardsville seniors who play basketball are calling a foul on state leaders.

“I was definitely disappointed,” said senior Caleb Valentine. “I mean, we’ve come a long way and we worked really hard.”

Senior Preston Weaver added: “There’s something about playing sports with your best friend you get a feeling in here.”

Some sports, like bowling and swimming, would have little impact from the health department decision.

Senior Basketball Player Brenna Weller said, “I’m still trying to get a scholarship to play basketball at the next level so it’s a little disappointing to me and my teammates.”

COVID-19 has already messed up the recruiting process.

“Current universities, their players might be given an extra year of eligibility so a lot of coaches that contact us they don’t know how many scholarships they have available because they kept players currently on campus that might be able to come back for an additional year,” said head basketball coach Dustin Battas.

The governor’s order and press release came before a board meeting by the Illinois High School Association. It appears IHSA feels like they’ve been sandbagged.

In a statement, a spokesman said, “We felt that we presented multiple options that would allow for basketball to be conducted safely…” last Friday.

“I feel like there is a way to play,” said senior athlete Jalio Roundtree. “I feel like it can be done and I see both sides also to it.”

Edwardsville Athletic Director Alex Fox said there’s still hope. The IHSA board meets Wednesday and will decide how high school winter sports will deal with COVID-19.

“I’m going to hold on hope for these kids I have to do that,” he said. “The IHSA had mentioned that the Illinois Department of Health provides guidance I hope they’re not the end all be all.”

The governor called the situation a delay in some high school sports.

FOX 2 Newsletters

Sign up for a newsletter from FOX 2 to get updates about news and weather. We offer daily headlines, breaking news, severe weather, and forecast emails.

St. Louis Sports

FOX2 Sports is your home for the latest information about the St. Louis Cardinals, the St. Louis Blues, Saint Louis University, the University of Missouri, and the University of Illinois.

Are the Cardinals making a big trade? Are the Blues ready for another Stanley Cup run? Is someone going to sign a major free-agent deal? Are the Tigers, Billikens and Illini bringing in the next big recruiting class? We cover all the big games that matter.

The MLS is coming to St. Louis in 2023 and we’ll be here for the start of STL SC too. The XFL thrived in its reboot season playing at the Dome at America’s Center, and if the BattleHawks return in 2022, we’ll be there to tackle it.

St. Louis is home to some of the best high school student-athletes who go on to succeed in the pros and beyond. Before Larry Hughes, Bradley Beal and Jayson Tatum made a name for themselves as Division I NCAA basketball stars at SLU, Florida, and Duke, they played at CBC and Chaminade. Before Ezekiel Elliott, Sheldon Richardson and Jeremy Maclin became Ohio State Buckeyes and Missouri Tigers and NFL first-round draft picks, they went to John Burroughs, Gateway Tech and Kirkwood. All of them were featured in the FOX2 Prep Zone before they went off to the SEC, Big 12, Big Ten and beyond.

Members of our team, including Sports Director Martin Kilcoyne, Charlie Marlow, and Rich Gould have covered every significant moment in St. Louis sports since 1987, from the football Cardinals’ departure for Arizona to the arrival of the St. Louis Rams; from the Mark McGwire home run chase to the Cardinals’ World Series titles, to the St. Louis Rams and the Greatest Show on Turf era’s Super Bowl crown; from Brett Hull to Vladimir Tarasenko, we’ve covered the Blues all the way to the team’s first Stanley Cup.

Think of all the great characters in St. Louis area sports history. Jack Buck, Mike Shannon, Charlie Spoonhour, Norm Stewart, Whitey Herzog, Tony LaRussa, Stan Musial, Dick Vermiel, Lou Brock, Albert Pujols, Kurt Warner, Ozzie Smith, Hull, Pat Maroon, Keith Tkachuk, Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright, David Freese. All of them talk to us.

More local COVID-19 maps and stats


Latest News

More News