Illinois youth sports starting back with warning from Pritzker

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After months of Gov. J.B. Pritzker blocking sporting events for students across the state because of COVID-19 concerns, some games are set to start this week, but they will look different depending on where the games are played.

In the Ball-Chatham School District, there won’t be cheerleaders allowed. At Williamsville-Sherman, Athletic Director Adam Euker said they’ll be allowed, but limited.

“They’re student-athletes just like our basketball players, our volleyball players, our football players,” Euchre told WMAY. “I felt that it was extremely important that they be part of this experience.”

Cheerleaders won’t be considered part of the game and will be counted amid spectators where the limit is 25 to 50 people, depending on COVID-19 metrics. They also won’t be able to have chants.

With those limits, Euker said the district has set up cameras to stream on the internet game where they can for a fee. There will also be limited space for media.

As for the limited number of parents, Euker said there’ll be scrutiny.

“You’re really going to have to be on your best behavior because I don’t want to have to remove you for riding an official and then you’re not allowed to watch your son or daughter compete,” he said.

In Springfield, Lanphier boys basketball coach Blake Turner said his student-athletes are excited to compete. But, if the COVID-19 numbers get worse, the governor has threatened to push pause again.

“I just think that giving those kids an opportunity is huge and taking that away from them would just be devastating again,” Turner said. “But you also have to trust the science and trust the numbers.”

Illinois High School Association Assistant Executive Director Matt Troha said they’d abide by the governor’s edicts.

“We’re not able to go outside of ISBE and IDPH and so with this particular situation and with this pandemic, we’re going to follow their guidance,” Troha said.

A Sangamon County Judge refused to take up a case challenging the governor’s authority to pause sports.

Judge John Madonia, chief circuit judge for the Seventh Judicial Circuit for the State of Illinois, said the governor appeared to be shopping for a friendly forum by attempting to transfer a case from LaSalle County to Sangamon County.

“Of particular concern to this court, as Chief Judge for the Seventh Judicial Circuit, is the potential for forum and judge shopping that results from the transfer of this case,” Madonia wrote in an order. “Because Sangamon County courts have consistently made rulings that are favorable to the State of Illinois, in previous litigation challenging governmental restrictions imposed to control the spread of COVID-19, concern has been sufficiently established for this court to believe that Defendant’s motion to change venue to Sangamon County is a not-so-veiled disguise to shop for a friendly forum to decide another COVID dispute involving State of Illinois activity restrictions that have been implemented in response to the continued spread of the coronavirus.”

“Had [the Pritzker administration] in the instant LaSalle County case sought for the case to be transferred through the Supreme Court, then this court would not be in a position to make this determination,” Madonia wrote. “However, [the Pritzker administration] circumvented the Supreme Court authority to consolidate the lawsuit into established Sangamon County proceedings, and opted to establish jurisdiction through forum non conveniens, pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 187, which permits this court to refuse to accept jurisdiction”

That case now goes back to LaSalle County.

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