ILLINOIS (WFIE) - The COVID-19 pandemic shut down high school sports in many areas of the country in 2020, including Illinois.
But as positive cases begin to trend downward, health and safety restrictions have also started to loosen.
State leaders were extremely cautious with their COVID-19 protocols. So much so that since the spring of 2020, no high school sports were allowed to be played.
In late January, Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois High School Association finally decided to lift the ban and let the kids play.
So basketball teams across the state played their abbreviated seasons from February until the second weekend of March. Fall sports teams such as volleyball and soccer began their seasons earlier this week.
On Friday, high school football officially kicked off its season in Illinois. Edwards County football coach Russ Gerlach says his team is excited.
“We’ve been waiting since last August to get to play,” Gerlach said. “There for a while, we didn’t think we’d have a chance to play any sports other than maybe baseball. I think everybody’s ready to get going. It’s the first sporting event that just random fans can come to. We’ve had home basketball games for boys and girls, but that was just 50 seats, but tonight it’s the sporting event that just anybody in town can come to.”
Players will be required to wear masks while playing, similar to the rules implemented during basketball season.
No state championship tournaments will be held for fall sports teams. Their seasons are slated to last only six weeks.