The Kenwood Broncos won’t play any football games this fall because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but some sports will be played.
According to Kenwood Academy Athletic Director Les Gill, even though football contact activity has been canceled, the school is looking forward to participating in those fall sports which have been approved.
"Right now, we are going to move forward with the approved fall sports activities in spite of football activities being cancelled and the sport being played in the spring," said Gill.
"Only with the guidelines that have been provided by the IIllinois Department of Health, IHSA and Chicago Public Schools."
Gil said it was unfortunate that all CPS schools football activities would be canceled this fall but he understands that safety comes first and that the schools must take the necessary measures to keep players, coaches, and the community safe.
Gill pointed out that the approved fall sports included boys and girls cross country, boys and girls golf, girls swimming and diving, girls tennis and co-ed softball.
"It's a historical time in which we live, and it's unfortunately a tragic situation of people losing their lives with this virus," said Andre Lewis, head coach of the Kenwood girls basketball team who participates in winter sports activities for CPS. "And from a coach's perspective, I just worry about those young people who are dealing with health issues, and, the other side of it, many young people are losing opportunities."
As far as winter sports, Gill had no comment about the possibility of not having a season, but Charles Tabb, head coach of the Kenwood volleyball team said it was unfortunate for student athletes who have worked really hard but will have no future opportunities.
"With the sports thing, it's like a Catch-22," said Tabb. “It's unfortunate for the kids who are working hard."
According to IHSA.org, the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Board of Directors met virtually for their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, Sept. 14, where the Board approved several updates to the IHSA Return To Activities guidelines, while also providing guidance on the IHSA’s independent team participation rule for the 2020-21 school year.
The Board waived the 2020-21 season limitations for winter, spring, and summer sports that would have restricted those sports to no more than two contests per week. The winter, spring, and summer seasons will revert to their normal game limitations as dictated by IHSA by-laws.
“We have preached that this school year will be fluid, and the changes made by the Board today are a good example of that,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “When the IHSA’s initial Return To Activities guidelines were established, the limitation of two contests per week felt like a constraint that would help limit exposure. However, given how well our state is handling the pandemic, and the lack of setbacks in the fall sports we have conducted so far, there was a consensus that we could move forward with allowing schools to schedule winter, spring, and summer sports without further restrictions.”
Additionally, the IHSA’s summer season will begin two weeks earlier than initially announced. With Monday’s modification, summer sports (baseball, softball, track & field, girls soccer, lacrosse, boys tennis, boys volleyball) can now begin practices on April 19 and games on May 3.
“We understood that when the modified schedule for 2020-21 was released that the summer sport season coaches would take some umbrage with it,” said Anderson. “However, we also knew that summer was the season that we had the most time and flexibility to work with, so we preached patience. We are glad to be able to provide some relief by creating the option to start two weeks earlier.”
Additionally, the Board reviewed a request from Highland High School that sought an exemption to IHSA By-law 3.100, which governs Independent Team Participation. Highland sought an exemption to the rule during 2020-21 for the sports of volleyball, lacrosse, soccer, baseball, and softball, which would allow student-athletes in those sports to simultaneously participate on their IHSA school team and on a non-school team.
The current by-law prevents participation on a school and non-school team at the same time in the same sport. The Board elected not to provide an exemption to the rule.
“There was a lengthy and spirited discussion on if we should provide an exemption to this rule given the unprecedented nature of the school year,” said Anderson. “The Board understands both sides of the argument and has heard from passionate advocates for each scenario. Ultimately, concerns over safety and equity left them uncomfortable with providing an exemption to this rule today. They consider the matter tabled for the time being, but may revisit if there is support from the advisory committees in these respective sports.”