Metro East high school sports remain sidelined as other parts of Illinois return to play

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ST. LOUIS, Mo- Illinois Governor JB Pritzker announced Friday that three of the state’s 11 regions could take a big step forward toward competing in winter sports, while still leaving much of the state’s population centers, including Chicago and the Metro East, sidelined.

The state’s North, North Central and Southern regions have been moved to “Tier 2” COVID mitigation due a decline in positivity rates and hospitalizations..

Tier 2 means that low risk sports (Bowling, Boys Swimming, Girls Gymnastics, Badminton, Cheerleading and Dance) can start practice immediately and compete in their geographic region once the Illinois High School Association approves a competition schedule. The IHSA said Friday it expects to release that schedule ahead of a meeting planned January 27.

“High Risk” sports (basketball) for regions now in Tier 2, can start non-contact training.

Following an IHSA Executive Board meeting Wednesday, the body said it hoped high school sports could return statewide by February.

“We recognize that if no sports have resumed by February, season lengths could be impacted in certain sports, and that we may need to take a longer look at the likelihood of true seasons being conducted in high-risk sports this year,” the board said Wednesday.

On Friday, IHSA’s Executive Director sounded a cautious tone.

“This is certainly positive news for three regions of the state, but we still have a long way to go until we get all of our student-athletes back to being active,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson in a news release. “High school student-athletes are hurting from a mental, physical, and emotional standpoint, so we hope this is the first step toward getting that back to some normalcy…We all need to continue to take the mitigations seriously,” he added. “Wear a mask. Socially distance. We need to get these other regions to Tier 2 and cannot risk having others backslide.”

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