Illinois starts high school football summer conditioning today

Illinois high school association
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It’s official, high school football players in Illinois can begin voluntary conditioning workouts today. Friday, the Illinois High School Association approved a Stage 1 return, which means voluntary strength and conditioning sessions are allowed to begin.

Below is the latest from the state governing body:

IHSA COVID-19 Update

* Last updated at 2:30pm on Friday, June 5, 2020

The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Board of Directors has approved Return to Play Guidelines developed within the current structure of Governor Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan that provide the first step in IHSA student-athletes returning to participation. 

The Return to Play Guidelines were developed by the IHSA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) and have been approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).

“I commend the IHSA SMAC for crafting a plan that fits within the framework provided by state leadership, and refuses to compromise safety,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “The IHSA Return to Play Guidelines offer some important first steps in allowing student-athletes to reacclimate both physically and mentally to athletics, but more importantly, they allow each school to assess their own individual situation and determine if and when they want to proceed.”

An IHSA member high school may not conduct workouts under the Return to Play Guidelines unless they have local school district approval, and are located in a Health Region that is currently in Phase 3 (or better) under the Governor’s Restore Illinois plan. Any school within a Phase 3 Region of the state could begin to implement the Return to Play Guidelines on June 6.

“These guidelines fulfill the IHSA’s twin commitments to interscholastic sports and the health of the interscholastic athletes that play them,” said IHSA SMAC member Dr. Preston Wolin, the Surgeon/Director of Sports Medicine at Chicago Center for Orthopedics. “The SMAC has taken into account both the most recent news about the virus, and the opinions of experts across the country. Both the SMAC and the Board will continue to monitor events and medical opinions as time moves forward.”

The Return to Play Guidelines are aimed at student-athlete acclimatization and general physical fitness, and will not include any skill of sport training elements. The guidelines detail the allowable activities for student-athletes and coaches, as well as the safety precautions and social distancing that must be adhered to in order to maximize safety. 

“Our kids have been without sports and school for over two months, which has taken a toll on their physical and emotional health, said IHSA SMAC member Dr. Cynthia R. LaBella, the Medical Director at Institute for Sports Medicine and Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. “We purposely designed this first phase to focus solely on strength and conditioning so that kids can gradually rebuild their fitness levels in small peer groups with coach guidance. This will get kids moving again with their peers in the safest way possible, which will have a huge positive impact on their physical and emotional well-being.”

The IHSA’s Return to Play Guidelines will remain in place until the IHSA or Illinois Department of Health announce further guidelines.

“We will continue to seek input from our Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, while following guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health, on what potentially happens next in late June,” said Anderson.

See the full IHSA Return Play Guidelines (PDF) for more info.

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Jeff Fisher
Jeff is an award-winning journalist and expert in the field of high school sports, underscored with his appearance on CNBC in 2010 to talk about the big business of high school football in America. Jeff turned to his passion for high school football into an entrepreneurial venture called High School Football America, a digital media company focused on producing original high school sports content for radio, television and the internet. Jeff is co-founder and editor-in-chief of High School Football America, which is a media partner with USA TODAY High School Sports.