States have been tossing around the question about return-to-play guidelines for high school sports since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Illinois High School Association's decision to postpone several fall sports has been met with much opposition and uproar. As an avid sports fan and former Ridgewood Spartan athlete, I know the pain others are feeling. I wouldn’t have wanted my senior volleyball season derailed; I wouldn't have wanted a fall without football Friday. But the decisions from Governor Pritzker and state officials are coming from the right place.
Safely playing contact sports in a pandemic involves a robust effort that takes more than just wearing a mask. Imagine if postponed sports got the green light. Are communities ready to face potential challenges? As teams, coaches, and families travel to games, they could all return to their hometowns unknowingly bringing the virus with them. Before you know it, cases spread, and the future for even a spring season of football gets thrown out of the mix.
Sure, you can take a quick trip across the Mississippi River for an Iowa high school football game. But just because their districts are playing doesn’t mean that Illinois should start playing too. I’m pro-sports, but also pro-public health. Tackling COVID-19 is a team effort, and we may need to take one for the team and sit this one out.