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IHSA cuts boys gymnastics and debate state series. Here's why


A recent vote by the Illinois High School Association Board of Directors eliminated the Boys' Gymnastics and Debate state series.

IHSA executive director Craig Anderson sat down to talk with Kinsley Reliford about what went into the decision, and why girls' flag football may be the next sport to get its own state level-competition.

Q: If the teams are not allowed to compete, wouldn’t that take away a desire to participate in that specific program?

We’ve made the decision to discontinue conducting our state series, but it does not eliminate the possibility of our member schools to organize teams, compete in interscholastic competition, and potentially organize themselves to conduct statewide tournaments where they might organize themselves.

I believe that the majority of our schools will continue to offer that and provide those opportunities for students. I don’t believe it eliminates opportunities for schools.

Q: Do you believe that if the state series had continued for the boys' gymnastics and debate programs that there would have eventually been a revived interest?

Just looking at the history of the participation of our member schools, I would probably say that they weren’t going to get to that 7% level. The pandemic affected a number of our sport and activity programs and reduced participation.

We did see many rebound, but unfortunately, we did not see these get the rebound that would remove them from the threshold of the 7%.

Q: Would you consider renewing the state series for the boys’ gymnastics and debate programs if participation was to rise?

We would always review it again and look to add it back if there’s a member of schools engaging in boys’ gymnastics or debate.

Q: Are there other programs that are rising in student participation?

The one that’s trending is girls’ flag football. In the Chicago area, we’re seeing an increased number of schools that may have close to 100 teams. If those numbers play out and we see that growth, we’re very likely bringing to our board of directors a recommendation to adopt girls’ flag football.

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