Dear IHSA Executive Board:
We're sure you have already received plenty of emails and messages expressing disappointment that Illinois high school athletics remain in a state of limbo. Having to wait another two weeks to learn the fate of the remainder of the high school sports season adds to the disappointment. We appreciate the fact that you are reluctant to cancel any sport at this time, but in our eyes (members of the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association), January 27th is simply two more weeks of wasted time - time that could be spent preparing for the sport seasons that you feel can be salvaged this year. If you know high-risk sports have no chance of participating this year, then call it, and focus on the sports that can be played. You made the tough decision last spring when you canceled spring sports. It seems inevitable that you are going to have to make the same decision this spring regarding high-risk sports. Why draw it out past January 27th? Honestly, what everyone needs and/or wants now is a final decision (good or bad), not another two weeks of wait-and-see.
There is a proposal floating in the Twittersphere right now (we don’t know who proposed it, how valid it is, or how seriously it is being considered) that recommends B swim, B/G bowling, B/G soccer, B/G volleyball, badminton, B/G track, B/G gymnastics, baseball, and softball begin practice March 1, with 6 weeks of games to start March 8, and a 3-week State series beginning April 19. It also recommends B/G water polo, B tennis, wrestling, B/G lacrosse, football, B/G basketball, cheer, and dance begin practice April 26, with 5 weeks of games to start May 3, and a 3-week State series beginning May 31. If this proposal is legitimate, I hope you’ve considered the fact that any school north of Bloomington-Normal will have almost no chance of playing outdoor sports (softball, baseball, and soccer, especially) during the month of March without a southern trip or turf fields. Those of us who play up here are lucky to get on a baseball or softball field by March 28. March 8 is an unrealistic expectation, to say the least. Then to have the regular season end the second week of April would leave most northern schools with about 3 weeks of competition. For sports that saw their season canceled last spring, that hardly seems fair. We won’t even go into the logistics of trying to play boys and girls volleyball at the same time when so many coaches double up and coach both sports, or the fact that multi-sport athletes (and multi-sport coaches) will have to choose between football and basketball or football and wrestling.
This quote is taken directly from the email that was sent by Craig on Wednesday: "Additionally, the Board reviewed several options outlining a sports schedule framework for the remainder of the school year. The Board directed the IHSA staff to take feedback from today’s meeting, as well as any insight gained in the coming weeks, and bring forward viable scheduling options for a special Board meeting on January 27, 2021. The Board will provide an update following that meeting.” Is it possible for you to narrow down the proposals and send them to the IHSA membership for feedback? You know that there’s nobody better to solicit feedback from than the people who are most affected by the decisions that you have to make. Why not let athletic directors or principals see the proposals and get feedback from their coaches? It may help you make a more-informed decision.
If that’s not possible, please consider this feedback from the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association when discussing your schedule framework: Do not penalize again the spring sports that had their seasons canceled in 2019-2020. Baseball, softball, boys and girls track, boys and girls water polo, girls soccer, boys tennis, boys volleyball, and boys and girls lacrosse were all denied an opportunity to have seasons last spring. Any of these sports that are low risk should be given top priority this spring. We understand the IHSA is reluctant to have a repeat of last spring and cancel any sports, but time is running out, and we feel that IHSA efforts to accommodate every sport that has not had a season yet will result in an unfair diminishing of those sports who haven’t been able to play since the spring of 2019. If, after consulting with the IDPH and the Governor’s office, it becomes apparent that high risk sports will not likely play in the next 5 months, then please make the tough decision on January 27th, focus on the sports that will have the ability to play this spring, and put our seasons on the calendar where we can realistically have as close to a full season as possible. (As we stated earlier, March 8 is unrealistic for the majority of high schools in the state to play outdoor sports.)
Many of us on this email were at one time or still are multi-sport coaches. We don’t want to see anything get canceled, but shortening every sport’s season in order to give false hope to sports that in all likelihood will not be approved for play this spring is a greater disservice to athletes and coaches than acknowledging that reality. If you already know that high risk sports will not have a season, then please don’t sacrifice those of us who had our season canceled last spring by condensing our season this spring in order to accommodate a schedule that will never be approved by the IDPH or the Governor’s office. What a shame it would be if you shorten the baseball season to accommodate a football or basketball season, then cancel those and leave baseball with a season much shorter than we actually could have had.
The Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association Board of Directors
Brian Wujcik - Richards High School
Kyle Nelson - Burlington Central High School
Dave Kalal - York High School
Mike Stock - Naperville Central High School
Don Erickson - Reavis High School
Len Asquini - St. Charles East High School
Dan Schoessling - Wheaton North High School
Paul Belo - Palatine High School
Pete Meyer - Lisle High School
Eric Regez - Herscher High School
Sean Freeman - Lane Tech High School
Mike Manno - St. Viator High School
Dan Colucci - Lake Park High School
Joel Pelland - Glenbard East High School
Tim Funkhouser - Edwardsville High School
Chris Hawkins - Normal West High School