Parents, students and community members from schools including Wheaton Warrenville South, Wheaton North, Glenbard West, Glenbard South, St. Charles North, Batavia, Lyons Township and Hinsdale Central came together to advocate for students to return to schools, athletics and activities during a We Stand for the Students Rally at Memorial Park in Wheaton on Sept. 8.
Parents, students and community members from schools including Wheaton Warrenville South, Wheaton North, Glenbard West, Glenbard South, St. Charles North, Batavia, Lyons Township and Hinsdale Central came together to advocate for students to return to schools, athletics and activities during a We Stand for the Students Rally at Memorial Park in Wheaton on Sept. 8. — Sandy Bressner - sbressner@shawmedia.com

The recently formed Let Us Play IHSA Sports and Activities movement announced a pair of rallies to support the return of all IHSA sports and activities as soon as possible for Saturday in Chicago and Springfield.

The rallies were sparked and by the efforts of athletes, parents, friends and fans and have drawn support from IHSA coaches statewide.

Illinois is the only state in the Midwest that is not currently participating in or has an upcoming date set for the return to play for all sports, though some fall sports are being contested including golf and cross country. Michigan most recently overturned a ruling that had its fall sports on pause until the spring and is now set to return to play its fall sports in a time frame close to its original scheduling.

The two rallies are scheduled to run consecutively on Saturday. The first rally will be held at the James Thompson Center at 100 W Randolph Street in Chicago from 10-11 a.m. on Saturday, while the Springfield rally is set for the State Capitol building at the Lincoln statue from 1-2 p.m.

Anyone planning on attending the rally is urged to wear a mask and support the efforts by sporting school colors and bringing signage to support the cause.

In the interim, the group is urging interesting parties to contact local state representatives and Governor JB Pritzker to let them know of the support for returning IHSA sports and activities immediately.

Time is of the essence for all sports in terms of hopefully allowing for full postseason participation, but particularly in the case of football, which would almost certainly need a full acclimatization period in the current climate to be allowed to begin competition.

Plus, some schools may simply not allow their schools to participate fully regardless in the current climate. The Chicago Public Schools announced late last week that they wouldn't allow their athletic programs to participate in current allowed contact days by the IHSA and some other schools outside of the CPS have also instituted that policy as well.

The target date for football to try to return to play would be October 1, with a altered and slightly shortened regular season followed by a modified and also shortened postseason to be concluded by the first week in December.

The effort isn't isolated to football, particularly in the area of the postseason. Fall sports that are currently competing are currently slated to not have traditional state championship and are slated to participate in regional championships of which the details have not been fully released. It is one of the goals of the protest group to restore full postseason opportunities to all sports as well.

Sports not contested in the fall are also currently slated for the same regional postseason plan rather than traditional state championships.

If the seasons were restored, it would require a slight bump in the calendar to accommodate for winter sports, but more weeks would open up on the back end of the current winter schedule with the sports that are now currently slated to be moved from fall to early spring.