CHICAGO – The state imposes restrictions on youth and adult sports in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus in Illinois, a rule that puts the future of high school football and other contact sports in jeopardy.
The rules, which take effect August 15, apply to people of all ages and cover almost all fields of athletics. Restrictions vary depending on how risky the sport is considered.
For example, soccer is considered high risk, meaning there is no training and training without contact but no matches. Tennis, which is considered lower risk because players are not closely related, can still play intra-league as well as state or league championship matches.
“This virus remains dangerous for children and parents and grandparents, teachers and coaches,” Governor JB Pritzker told a press conference Wednesday announcing the restrictions. “And for now, this is the best thing we can do for the health and safety of our families in the current situation.”
Only college sports and professional leagues are excluded from this guide. That means the rules apply to school-based sports, travel clubs, private leagues, recreation leagues, and park district sports.
The state has online listing detailing the level of sport risk and what players and teams can do.
State regulations break sports into three categories – higher risk, moderate risk and lower risk – based on how many athletes have contact when playing and training.
Sports in each category are then subject to four levels of restriction based on how Illinois struggles in fighting the corona virus. All sports start at Level 1 but can move up and relax restrictions because coronaviruses are becoming less of a threat in Illinois.
At Level 1, teams can only hold exercises and training without contact and cannot have games. That is the level of sports that are at higher risk – such as soccer, hockey, and rugby – currently at the bottom.
Level 2 allows soccer practice in teams, although only with parental consent if the players are under age. Competitive games are not permitted. Medium-risk sports, such as soccer and basketball, are under that rule for now.
Level 3 makes it possible to play and meet intra-conference or intra-league, as well as games and meetings of state or league championships. For now, only low-risk sports, such as bowling and ice skating, are included in that category.
Level 4 allows for tournaments, games outside the conference and outside the league, multi-team meetings and games outside the country, and championship games. Currently there are no sports at that level.
Pritzker said he hoped the country could lift some restrictions if the prospect of a pandemic improved here.
While Illinois has seen a significant reduction in cases, hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 since its peak in May, all of those numbers have begun to increase again in recent weeks.
“We must act responsibly and collectively to protect the people we love,” Pritzker said. “We have made progress in Illinois, but we have also seen that it can pass quickly. And now, everything is not headed in the right direction. “
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