Butler, Davis, LaHood Criticize Governor Pritzker’s New Restrictions on Youth Sports

U.S. Representatives Rodney Davis (IL-13) and Darin LaHood (IL-18), and Illinois State Representative Tim Butler (HD-87) today criticized Governor J.B. Pritzker’s new restrictions on youth sports, which cancel competitive fall play for football, basketball, volleyball, and other sports.

“There should not be one-size-fits-all regulations for youth sports statewide,” said Rep. Davis. “As Governor Pritzker’s rules currently stand, competitive play for sports like football and basketball is cancelled statewide for as long as the Governor wants. That’s the wrong approach. As a former youth football and baseball coach, I believe local schools, in consultation with parents, athletes, coaches, and their conferences, should get the final say. The Governor’s Office has no business determining who can and cannot play youth sports. This is yet another overreach from Governor Pritzker.”

“As a father of three boys who play sports year round, I understand the integral role athletics play in the education of our children and their mental and physical health. A one-size-fits-all structure to regulating youth sports is not the right approach in a state as regionally diverse as Illinois. This is a clear overreach by Governor Pritzker, and there will be significant health consequences for our children because of these rules,” said Rep. LaHood.

“From day one of his executive orders, the Governor has said he relies solely upon science to make his decisions,” said Butler. “Well, where is his science on these decisions today? Why are sports like lacrosse or ultimate frisbee a higher risk level than basketball and soccer? What is the science on four different levels of play? Yet again, the Governor seems to be making these decisions completely on his own, and certainly with no input from any other elected official.”

Governor Pritzker’s new restrictions “pertains to all youth and adult recreational sports, including, but not limited to, school-based sports (IHSA & IESA), travel clubs, private leagues and clubs, recreational leagues and centers, and park district sports programs.”

Governor Pritzker’s restrictions on youth sports can be found here. You can find a copy of the 2020-2021 IHSA season schedule here.

Earlier this week, U.S. Reps. Davis and LaHood, State Reps. Butler and Mike Murphy (HD-99), and State Senator Steve McClure (SD-50) sent a letter to Governor Pritzker requesting clarification and additional guidance on high school sports. The letter was sent following input the five lawmakers received from coaches of public and private high school athletics programs in central Illinois.

The letter partly states, “High school sports are a vitally important part of these students’ academic careers and for some, sports are an integral part to their mental health. For many students, their high school coaches have a strong parental role in their lives and interactions with these coaches lead to a more positive life.

“…Additionally, like previous requests to use a regional approach when reopening the state, we request a regional approach to this plan as well.

“…Canceling sports in highly populous regions that have significant amounts of COVID-19 cases should not cause sports to be canceled in regions on the other side of the state that are much less populous and that have far fewer COVID-19 cases.”

You can find a copy of the letter here.