Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced changes to sports across the state a few hours before the IHSA’s announcement.

OK, big breath.

There’s lots of news related to today’s major shifts in state high school sports announced by the IHSA.

But let’s start with the biggest news:

  1. Football, boys soccer and volleyball have been moved to the winter/spring, beginning their seasons Feb. 15 and ending May 1.
  2. Golf, cross country, girls tennis, and girls swimming remain in the fall, but with abbreviated seasons that start Aug. 10 and end Oct. 17.
  3. Every sport will have an abbreviated, altered season, which might be easier to show through the chart at the bottom of this story.

But several questions loom, as expected when trying to revamp an entire state schedule in a brief time. So let’s look at a few of the lingering uncertainties.

Will sports have state championships? Sans increased infections in Illinois, the answer appears to be mostly yes. Football, says IHSA executive director Craig Anderson, will likely play a regular season that lasts six to seven games, capped by a two to three game postseason of some kind. Sports such as baseball and softball that can compete more frequently, Anderson said, might have a better chance at hosting state tournaments. If a sport needs a few days to make this happen, the director said, then the IHSA could extend the season. “It will be difficult to crown a state championship in football,” Anderson said in a press conference late Wednesday afternoon. More likely, football teams will have shorter, local seasons. Later, Anderson added: “We don’t know if we can progress to a state championship.”

What sport is most at risk of not even starting a season? Anderson briefly cited wrestling as a sport that poses more health challenges than others. But he was not pushing for its closure.

Who will be able to attend high school athletic events? That will be determined by infection rates, the state public health department and the governor’s office. Illinois currently caps indoor gatherings to 50 people, which could mean varsity and JV basketball or volleyball squads with coaches, scorekeepers and timers might hit that capacity. “There are challenges, for sure, to allowing spectators to attend” Anderson said. Barring medical breakthroughs or reductions of infection, Anderson said that he might also have to watch online.

Can these timelines change? A great deal is dependent upon the coronavirus. So, yes. Anderson said they would rely on state agencies to determine any adjustments. “We’re leaning on their (IDPH) expertise,” he said. “When they tell us we’re able to move, we’ll move (dates).” He said he would not be surprised, for example, if the start date for basketball were to move from Nov. 16 to early December.

Why not play more low-risk sports in the fall? Boys tennis remains in the spring, Anderson said, for two reasons. First, IHSA wanted to keep sports in their traditional seasons. Second, a change might prevent athletes from competing in sports they had in the past. A boys tennis player, for example, might also be on the golf team.

Sport/Activity2020-21 SeasonStart DateEnd Date
Boys/Girls GolfFallAug 10Oct. 17
Girls TennisFallAug 10Oct. 17
Boys/Girls Cross CountryFallAug 10Oct. 17
Girls Swimming & DivingFallAug 10Oct. 17
Boys & Girls BasketballWinterNov. 16Feb. 13
WrestlingWinterNov. 16Feb. 13
Boys Swimming & DivingWinterNov. 16Feb. 13
CheerleadingWinterNov. 16Feb. 13
DanceWinterNov. 16Feb. 13
Boys/Girls BowlingWinterNov. 16Feb. 13
Girls GymnasticsWinterNov. 16Feb. 13
FootballSpringFeb. 15May 1
Boys SoccerSpringFeb. 15May 1
Girls VolleyballSpringFeb. 15May 1
Girls BadmintonSpringFeb. 15May 1
Boys GymnasticsSpringFeb. 15May 1
Boys/Girls Water PoloSpringFeb. 15May 1
BaseballSummerMay 3June 26
SoftballSummerMay 3June 26
Boys/Girls Track & FieldSummerMay 3June 26
Girls SoccerSummerMay 3June 26
Boys VolleyballSummerMay 3June 26
Boys/Girls LacrosseSummerMay 3June 26
Boys TennisSummerMay 3June 26