PEORIA — The IHSA successfully shuffled the deck for its 2020-21 sports schedule when it announced its plan Wednesday.
I think it's a fairly good plan, but one with immense moving parts that counts on the COVID-19 pandemic not worsening. It also triggered the Illinois Elementary School Association to signal it might re-visit its plan, announced last week.
By the way, the IHSA plan has triggered some conflicts with the present IESA plan, like availability of coaching and officiating (hold that thought).
The IHSA plan is subject to the governor and the Illinois Department of Public Health making decisions that are both timely, and don't derail the new schedule before it can reach the finish line next spring.
The IHSA plan has to be approved by the IDPH. Cross your fingers.
It’s believed the IHSA made its plan without the state sharing its COVID-19 metrics — which determine what bumps the COVID guidelines from one phase to another.
The IESA has experienced this journey, too.
The IESA needed guidance from the IDPH, tried hard to get it, got no response, and had to work through its own plan while flying partially blind last week.
The IESA released this statement Wednesday afternoon:
"Today's announcement by Gov. Pritzker concerning youth sports and categorizing those sports into risk levels was the type of guidance we had hoped to receive prior to our announcement about IESA fall activities last week. Unfortunately, the guidelines were just released today and it certainly sheds a different light on several sports. In addition, the IHSA will be making an announcement about their plans for the 2020-21 school year. We (IESA) are reviewing all this information."
That means the IESA might attempt a do-over with its fall sports plan, in which it canceled junior-high level golf, baseball softball and cross country.
"I think it's a smart move to convene our board and look at the information we got yesterday," IESA executive director Steve Endsley said Thursday morning. "I've sent a note to the board to get together to talk about it."
Endsley said that meeting could happen in a matter of hours on Thursday, or Friday, or if necessary push to Monday.
"We need to jump at it," Endsley said. "I don't think (the process) will be a week."
The IESA made the best decision it could with the communication it had from IDPH — none — last week. "The state could have released (guidelines and categorizing of sports) a week earlier and it would have helped us," Endsley said. "We got a lot of hateful phone calls and emails when we announced.
"The thing that people probably need to understand is that all of this (IHSA and IESA) scheduling and planning is dependent on getting clearance for contact sports from the (IDPH and Governor's office) when those dates arrive later on the calendar," Endsley said. "The IHSA plan doesn't necessarily mean there is going to be football or wrestling or volleyball. If the guidelines about contact from the state aren't lifted when it’s time to play ... well, the plan gives everyone a way forward, but it's not a guarantee."
The IHSA plan, which shifted some sports from the fall to its spring calendar, unintentionally created some conflicts with IESA sports.
For instance, IHSA volleyball is now scheduled to run at the same time as IESA volleyball. Before you scoff at that, know that volleyball officials often work both levels. They have already contracted with the IESA for its matches, because they were expected to be in different times of the sports calendar.
Coaches who handle both varsity high school teams and the junior high school team in a given sport could also feel this conflict.
"Those coaches are set up to handle the high school team in one part of the year and the junior high team in another," Endsley said. "Their contact with kids at the junior high level is key in player development, and setting up the high school team for (prolonged) success.
"What do you suppose athletic directors are doing today? They've got to schedule matches, book officials, handle coaching and work out these problems."
The bottom line:
"We are all going to have to adjust to the fact that '20-21 is going to look differently," Endsley said. "It's not going to be the same, it's not going to be easy. We need to take a collective breath."
That’s all for Cleve In The Eve on Thursday, July 30.
Here’s your sports quote of the day:
"Difficulties in life are intended to make us better, not bitter."
— Dan Reeves (Former NFL athlete and head coach)
Dave Eminian is the Journal Star sports columnist, and covers the Rivermen and Chiefs. He writes the Cleve In The Eve sports column for pjstar.com. Reach him at 686-3206 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @icetimecleve.