Illinois governor closes door on football this fall

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It appears high school football will remain a spring sport as the pandemic continues.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Friday that he has not been talking with the Illinois High School Association about moving football up to this fall, but it is the state public health officials who made the call, not him.

“It is doctors and epidemiologists that are leading the way here,” Pritzker said. “It is what I have done all along in this pandemic. I think it’s one of the reasons we have one of the lowest positivity rates in the Midwest.”

Illinois High School Association executive director Craig Anderson sent the governor’s office a letter requesting permission to allow the IHSA to govern its sports and a timetable to return.

“With support from the IHSA Board of Directors, I issued a letter on September 10 to Governor Pritzker and Deputy Governor Ruiz, that seeks permission for the IHSA and its Sports Medicine Advisory Committee to resume control over determining the resumption of IHSA sports and activities,” Anderson said in an IHSA statement.

There have been several “Let Us Play” rallies around the state, as coaches, parents and players try to persuade the governor to change his mind. A large crowd showed up before the Chicago Bears home opener. Some high school athletes who are trying to impress college coaches on the football field left Illinois and are playing in states such as Texas and Florida.

Pritzker said it is no accident that states that allow football have higher cases of the coronavirus.

“If you look at just football, for example, many of the states that do not allow football today are the states with the lowest positivity rates,” Pritzker said.

Minnesota recently voted to restart football, making Illinois the only state in the Midwest that won’t have high school football this fall.

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