Back in March, the American people were told to lock down for “15 days to slow the spread” of coronavirus.
Now approaching seven full months of shutdowns, lockdowns and cancellations of the gloriously ordinary things that make up everyday life, people are clamoring for the normalcy promised by compliance with the first COVID-19 restrictions — and some are bravely defying government edicts to get it done.
‘‘As with sports in the fall, nothing is ‘canceled,’ just put on hold until we’re through the thick of this pandemic,” Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Tuesday after establishing restrictive guidelines for high school sports’ winter season with the help of the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“Life in a pandemic is hard for everyone, and it’s hard for all of our kids, whether or not they play sports,” the Democrat said. “That doesn’t make it any easier, but we really are all in this together.”
While the guidelines downgraded some sports, such as dance and cheerleading, to low-risk activities in terms of virus spread, the health department “elevated the sport of basketball from a medium-risk level to a high-risk level,” Illinois High School Association Executive Director Craig Anderson said.
The Illinois Basketball Coaches Association tweeted a statement of disapproval for the risk assessment, saying it was “very disappointed to learn of today’s decision by the governor and IDPH regarding the movement of basketball in Illinois to the High Risk category, thus postponing the season for our student-athletes and coaches.”
The IBCA is very disappointed to learn of today’s decision by the governor and IDPH regarding the movement of basketball in Illinois to the High Risk category, thus postponing the season for our student-athletes and coaches. Please read our full statement: https://t.co/63fC3aWUMM pic.twitter.com/O7DGW320ma
— Illinois Basketball Coaches Association (@ibcacoaches) October 28, 2020
But the IHSA went even further when it learned that the Democratic governor and his health department had put the kibosh on the basketball season as it was about to begin.
On Wednesday, the organization’s board of directors announced that it would proceed with the basketball season in defiance, with practices beginning Nov. 16 and games scheduled for the end of November, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
The #IHSA Board of Directors held a special meeting today to provide direction on winter sports.
🤼 Wrestling was moved to the summer season
🏀🏊♂️📣💃🎳🤸♀️ All other winter sports will proceed as scheduled
— IHSA #IHSA (@IHSA_IL) October 28, 2020
School districts will be left to decide whether to follow the IHSA or the state’s authoritarian government, and they could be subject to legal troubles or have their funding withheld by the Illinois State Board of Education.
“It’s a big deal to say to government officials and health departments that we are going to go a different direction from how you are advising,” Anderson said. “I have no idea how that is going to play out for us.”
The IHSA board said it would follow Sports Medicine Advisory Committee health recommendations on mask requirements for coaches, officials and players as well as stipulations for teams to stay within their own conferences and specified regions to prevent virus spread.
“The Board remains considerate of rising COVID-19 cases in Illinois and understand the importance of adhering to safety guidelines for the good of all citizens,” the IHSA board said in its statement.
“However, the Board has not been presented any causal evidence that rising COVID-19 cases make basketball more dangerous to play by the IDPH or any other health organization nationally or internationally.”
“On the contrary, the IHSA has been looking to bordering states that have sponsored both medium risk and high risk sports in the fall that have noted a low incident rate of COVID-19 spread.”
It added, “We understand that this decision will impact each high school and district differently. Some schools who remain in remote learning may not be able to start winter sports on time, and we feel for those in that situation.
“However, we have also learned that we cannot continue to look down the road to a season that may never come.”
Although the board chose to proceed with the basketball season, it did move the high-contact wrestling season into the summer season beginning April 19.
Twitter users largely agreed with the IHSA decision in the “Land of Lincoln,” where high school basketball is wildly popular.
Can someone explain why the university of Illinois can play football & plans to play basketball but our high schools can’t?
— Bob Coffey (@bcoffey11) October 30, 2020
Other states are playing football without major outbreaks, but now Illinois high school students will probably be deprived of their basketball season? “The Land of Pritzker” strikes again.
— Greg Bennett (@gregorywbennett) October 27, 2020
When are we going to finally admit @GovPritzker does not care about the kids. Add to that the organizations formed to defend sports cave to his failed leadership. Do your job and fight for their right to play!!!
— sdr (@sdr81646611) October 28, 2020
Across the nation, people are fed up with the arbitrary standards and ever-changing restrictions imposed in the name of public health, especially when it comes to activities involving healthy young people.
Prep athletes carry very little risk of succumbing to fatal COVID-19 complications by playing sports.
High school sports are important to students and other residents of Illinois, but they’re vital to the athletes who count on being able to nab college scholarships. If there’s no season, there’s no chance for scouts to award them with the opportunity of a higher education.
Politicians imposing endless lockdowns and arbitrary cancellations of virtually everything are increasingly revealing themselves to be power-drunk tyrants bent on ultimate control rather than acting as benevolent protectors.
When the pandemic began, the goal was to slow the spread so that hospitals would not be overwhelmed, yet it has morphed into seemingly permanent lockdowns with increasingly onerous restrictions on ordinary life.
There are still many ways this basketball season could be canceled — defunding, uncooperative school districts, complete statewide shutdowns — but at least someone is finally standing up for a return to normal life out from under the thumb of politicians.
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