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High school athletes, coaches launch social media campaign to advocate for return of sports

While youth sports remain in a holding pattern due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some Illinois high school athletes have taken to social media with messages and pleas, urging Gov. JB Pritzker and state officials to allow the resumption of sports.

Using #HearOurVoiceIllinois, athletes and coaches are posting videos to Twitter conveying personal experiences and messages on why they feel sports can safely resume.

Many athletes are citing concerns and the effects of the stoppage is having on their mental health. Others are advocating for the resumption of sports to assist in their collegiate recruiting process and more.

Currently, most winter sports remain on pause. Pritzker announced Friday that Regions 1, 2 and 5, which are moving out of Tier 3 mitigations and into Tier 2, will be allowed to begin some youth sports. Which sports could resume – and at what level of competition – was not immediately clear.

The IHSA board of directors met earlier this week, but did not take any action potential schedule changes. The IHSA stated it hopes to have additional clarification from state officials before it board convenes again later this month.

The IHSA did acknowledge, however, the social media campaign in its announcement.

“…Our overall goal remains unchanged, as we hope to conduct all IHSA sports during the remainder of the school year calendar. Please know that we see and read many of the comments and messages from student-athletes, coaches, and parents, and that we are doing everything we can to try and bring IHSA sports back within the current parameters we are working in.”

Illinois was the only state in the Midwest to not have some form of a football season in the fall, opting to delay the season until this spring. The IHSA did conduct seasons for cross country, tennis, boys and girls golf and girls swimming.

The IHSA had planned to start practices for its winter season for low-risk sports on Nov. 16, but surging COVID-19 cases throughout Illinois forced all youth sports to go on pause.

Elsewhere in the Midwest, the Michigan High School Association announced Wednesday three non-contact sports: girls gymnastics, girls and boys bowling, and girls and boys swimming & diving are allowed to start competition before the end of the month. Basketball, competitive cheer, ice hockey and wrestling may begin non-contact practices Jan. 16, while competition is slated to start Feb. 1 in Michigan.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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