State Announces Updated Winter Safety Guidelines for Sports

The state of Illinois has announced updated guidance for youth and adult recreational sports, including, but not limited to, school-based sports, travel clubs, private leagues and clubs, recreational leagues and centers, and park district sports programs. Collegiate sports and professional leagues are not impacted by these restrictions. The updated guidance was developed by the Illinois Department of Public Health in conjunction with public health experts from around the state and nation and reflects the high levels of risk associated with contact sports played indoors. The guidance also accounts for new research related to COVID-19 and sports, sports related outbreaks in other states.

The youth sports guidance puts sports into three risk levels, lower, medium, or higher, based on the amount of contact between athletes and their proximity during play. The guidance sets four levels of play allowed based on current public health conditions. In all levels, some form of play is allowed ranging from practice and trainings in level 1 to tournaments and conference play in level 4.

  • In level 1, only no-contact practices and training are allowed.
  • In level 2, intra-team scrimmages are allowed with parental consent for minors but there can be no competitive play.
  • In level 3 intra-conference, intra-EMS-region or intra-league play is allowed and there may be state- or league-championship games allowed for low-risk sports only.
  • In level 4, tournaments, out-of-conference/league play, and out-of-state play are allowed. Championship games would also be allowed in level 4.

Based on current conditions, lower risk sports can be played at levels 1, 2, and 3. Medium risk sports can be played at levels 1 and 2, and higher risk sports can be played at level 1.

The updated guidance moves basketball from medium risk to high risk due to the close contact of players and indoor play. Wrestling and hockey continue to be categorized as high risk as well. Cheer and dance will be categorized as lower risk, only if masking and distance are enforced. Low risk sports like bowling, gymnastics, swimming and diving will be permitted to play during winter.