Editorial: IHSA dangerously opens basketball season

For many, the world of sports serves as a source of excitement, entertainment, friendship, and a gateway to future opportunities. 

However, COVID-19 continues to keep many school buildings and places of work closed to prevent infecting the public. As a result, school sports have been affected. 

With the beginning of what would traditionally be basketball season and as plans for winter, spring, and summer games are considered, the significant, continual threat of the coronavirus pandemic must be respected. Close-contact high school sports must remain postponed for the greater good of local public health.

It is no controversy to say the virus carved out a significant portion of the U.S.’s population – all at the expense of citizens, families, and normalcy.

In Illinois, the number of daily cases has risen once again. Will County remains a hot spot for the virus with more than 3,000 cases recorded between Oct. 15 – Oct. 28 alone, according to The New York Times.

Do these statistics demonstrate the possibility for a safe return to athletic normalcy? 

Despite the rising numbers, many Illinoisians continue to claim a return to normalcy in the sphere of sports is exactly what is needed and continue to protest the closure of high school and college sports.

According to a recording of a September, Let Us Play protest,  football player Myles Mooyoung of Chicago’s Kenwood Academy High School took to the stage to give a speech.

“Anything that happens is on us,” Mooyoung said. “If I get COVID from playing football, I’m fine with that.”


Should society allow a teenager to take responsibility for the health of multitudes of citizens he may come in contact with before knowing whether or not he is sick?

What in the world would make football worth the risk when millions still work from home? 

Yes, sports provide students with an escape, a positive environment, and possibly scholarships. For a handful of athletes. 

The virus, on the other hand, is not that exclusive.

Yes, sports scholarships stand as essential to many high schoolers who plan to play in college. However, many athletes have already been scouted, and college officials, believe it or not, know what’s happening to the world.

 The only thing positive about high-contact sports returning to normal will be an increase in cases and positivity rates, and a few players will irresponsibly disregard the well being of others just to play a game.

The protesting of state guidelines for keeping COVID-19 at bay reaches even the Illinois High School Association (IHSA). 

On Oct. 28, the IHSA announced basketball season will start as scheduled, with practices beginning Nov. 16 and games starting on Nov. 30.

This directly contradicts state guidelines for winter sports – all of which should be suspended until further notice, according to government officials.

On the same day the IHSA riskily approved the start of basketball season, Illinois broke its highest case record with more than 6,000 cases added in one day, according to The New York Times.

Of course, school officials may choose whether to have its own students take part in the IHSA season or not. 

Chicago Public School officials, for example, chose to postpone its basketball season in accordance with the state, not IHSA, guidelines.

Smart decision.

People continue to get sick and die at increasing rates from an all-too-real threat.

The IHSA thinks now is a good time to play some basketball? 

If high schools open fields and courts for contact sports, the real game will be about playing with the possibility of a life-or-death scenario and reckless playing with the lives and health of others. 

All it takes is for one player to be an active carrier of COVID – a category which many young people unknowingly fit into – and suddenly there’s a renewed outbreak.

One student, one close contact pass without masks, and within a few weeks, the whole team could be shut down. 

Only the players? Of course not.

Covid can affect their families. Their grandparents. Their friends. Their coaches. Their fans. People at the grocery store, park, gas station.

Ignoring the well being of one’s fellow man for indulgence in personal activities has never been and will never be okay.

Professionals may be able to have games considering provided testing, overnight accommodations, team procedures, and schedules, but how can school districts do the same?

 Isn’t the main priority to slowly open school buildings for academic reasons not keep them shut down because of an outbreak after a basketball game?

And players may easily forget that it is not just their niche that’s affected. Marching band lost its season. Musicians and singers cannot hold concerts. 

Missing out on some high school experiences must be sacrificed for the greater good.

Should contact sports start so one can pretend everything is normal? Or would one rather not see their family succumb to the virus as so many others across this nation have? 

Nothing is normal for anyone right now. 

Illinois cannot handle more chaos, and its communities are not easily reborn from the ashes of whatever may remain. 

Health must remain the utmost concern for high school sports for the good of everyone – players, families, and one’s fellow man.

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