CHICAGO – A few coaches in a boys winter high school sport in Illinois are concerned about its future after this academic year, even if the governing body says it will return.
According to the Illinois High School Association, boys gymnastics has fallen below the participation threshold. Per their updated policy, a sport that has less than 7% of member schools entering a team can be removed.
So far, the board of directors for the organization has yet to make that move and they say they won’t next year.
“There will be an IHSA boys gymnastics state series in 2022-23,” IHSA said in a statement released to WGN News. “Sport/activity programs that fall below the participation threshold are reviewed annually by the IHSA board of directors each June in advance for that school year, but the board has not provided any indicators that they are considering concluding the state series in any IHSA sports or activities for 2023-24.”
Jason Brandenburg, the boys gymnastics coach at Fremd High School in Palatine, said the IHSA assistant executive director told him otherwise.
“She relayed to me that the IHSA has been looking at the numbers of boys gymnastics for some time and now that our numbers are lower than they were even previously (and) due to this new policy, we would unfortunately be deleted from the state series,” he said.
He said that the number of athletes in his program dropped from 30 to 12-to-14 over the last few years, with the Covid-19 pandemic playing a major role in the drop.
According to the IHSA website, there were 47 programs in the state that entered the sport’s tournament last spring.
“Gymnastics is a unique sport we pull in kids that might not have done any sport before not just gymnastics and we are really that home to them where they have that sense of belonging in their school,” Brandenburg said.