CHICAGO — People playing sports with recreational leagues and travel clubs have new rules from the state, which is hoping to slow the spread of coronavirus among athletes.
The rules will put limits on if athletes can play games or even have contact practices.
The regulations, which go into effect Aug. 15, apply to people of all ages and cover almost all areas of athletics. Only collegiate sports and professional leagues are exempt from the guidance. That means the rules apply to school-based sports, travel clubs, privates leagues, recreational leagues and park district sports.
The restrictions vary depending on how risky a sport is considered.
For example, football is considered high-risk, meaning there can be no-contact practices and trainings but not games. Tennis, considered lower risk since players are not in close contact, can still have intra-league play as well as state- or league-championship games and meets.
“The virus remains dangerous to kids and parents and grandparents and teachers and coaches,” Gov. JB Pritzker said during a Wednesday press conference announcing the restrictions. “And for right now, this is the best thing we can do for the health and safety of our families under the current circumstances.”
The state has an online list detailing the risk level of sports and what players and teams can do.
The state’s rules break sports into three categories — higher risk, medium risk and lower risk — based on how much contact athletes have while playing and practicing.
The sports in each category are then subject to four levels of restrictions based on how Illinois is faring in its fight against coronavirus. All sports start at Level 1 but can move up and loosen restrictions as coronavirus becomes less of a threat in Illinois.
In Level 1, teams can only host no-contact practices and trainings and can’t have games. That’s the level higher-risk sports — like football, hockey and rugby — are currently under.
Level 2 allows intra-team scrimmages, though only with parental agreement if the players are underage. Competitive play is not allowed. Medium-risk sports, like soccer and basketball, fall under those rules for now.
Level 3 allows for intra-conference or intra-league play and meets, as well as state- or league-championship game and meets. For now, only low-risk sports, like bowling and ice skating, fall into that category.
Level 4 allows for tournaments, out-of-conference and out-of-league play, multi-team meets and out-of-state play, as well as championship games. No sports are currently at that level.
Pritzker said he hopes the state can remove some of the restrictions if the outlook for the pandemic improves here.
While Illinois has seen significant drops in cases, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 since its mid-May peak, all of those numbers have started to rise again in recent weeks.
“We have to act responsibly and collectively to protect the people that we love,” Pritzker said. “We’ve made progress in Illinois, but we’ve also seen that it can be fleeting. And right now, things are not heading in the right direction.”
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