March 12, 2020

Coronavirus creates a little March Madness of its own

Use the search feature to find more photos from this game in 2018
A Pinckneyville student fan cheers for his team during their Class 2A semifinal game against Winnebago on March 9, 2018. Due to the spread of the Coronavirus over the past several months, the IHSA will limit attendance at this year's Class 1A and 2A basketball state finals. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

While professional sporting events and college tournaments around the country are being postponed or canceled, this weekend's Illinois High School Association boys small school basketball tournament will go on. Although there is a small twist.

The association said in a release this morning that it will limit attendance to just 60 fans per team based on recommendations from Peoria City/County Health Department in consultation with the Illinois Department of Public Health. The attendance limit for the remaining games in the 2020 IHSA Boys Basketball State Series, as well as at other IHSA events, is being put into place to preemptively reduce the potential spread of COVID-19 among athletes and spectators.

"This was a difficult decision shaped by thoughtful deliberation set against a truly unprecedented backdrop," said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. "IHSA Basketball is America’s Original March Madness, and we recognize that this tournament is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the competing teams, communities and fans. Ultimately though, we have to put the health and safety of the students, along with the general public, ahead of the spectacle of the event. This is and remains a fluid situation. It is important that our member schools and fans understand that events outside any of our control could lead to further changes over the coming hours and days."

The 60-spectator per school limitation will be in effect across all remaining basketball games at the regional level and up this season. Basketball and individual team fans follow the games via online stream or on broadcast television (follow this link to view the complete list of broadcasts).

With the attendance limit in place the March Madness Experience will be not operate this year.

Fans unable to gain entrance to the venue will be granted full refunds will be available for any tickets already purchased for the remaining contests according to the release issued by the IHSA.

Other sports and activities administered by the association that will be impacted by the interim attendance policy are the upcoming Debate, Drama & Group Interpretation, and Scholastic Bowl state series. The scholastic bowl, debate and drama state finals will also be closed to the public.

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