Rep. Niemerg Opposes Mask Mandate for Student Athletes by the IHSA: “Stop Using Our Kids as Political Pawns in a Power Trip by the Governor!”

State Representative Adam Niemerg (R-Dieterich) criticized the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Board of Directors who voted on Monday to adopt a new mask enforcement policy in order to force member schools to fall in line with the Governor’s current Executive Order 85 mandating masks. IHSA schools will not be allowed to participate in the state series for a given sport if they remain on Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) probation for non-compliance with the state mask mandate.

The IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said in a statement that “The IHSA Board of Directors did not look at this situation as being a pro-mask or anti-mask issue, nor did they view their ruling as any type of political stance. Setting aside their own personal opinions, they were unanimous in the belief that the IHSA is a rule-driven organization that should continue to align with ISBE rules for the good of its membership.”

“I take offense with IHSA executive director Craig Anderson’s comment that this mandate policy is not a political or mask issue,” said Rep. Adam Niemerg. “This whole pandemic has been politicized for a year and a half at every turn. Even a sports doctor in central Illinois who sits on a school board was being threatened to have his Illinois license revoked for his criticism of Gov. JB Pritzker’s mask mandate in schools.”

It was recently reported that Dr. Jeremy Henrichs, a sports doctor at Carle Hospital and sports team physician at the University of Illinois who also sits on the Mahomet-Seymour Board of Education, says state regulators were threatening his medical license over his criticism of the governor’s mask mandate in schools.

Rep. Niemerg points out that parents, students and taxpayers need to believe that the IHSA will be a non-political organization with the best interest of students. Sports provide important exercise and competition for boys and girls to lead healthy lives and avoid issues down the road such as obesity and all of the possible complications that come with that like diabetes. Experts know that physical exercise is tied to better academic success and the CDC says that masks should be optional.

“If the IHSA continues to be a political hammer for the Governor and the ISBE, parents will have to consider alternative options for allowing their sons and daughters to play competitively with other students around the state,” added Rep. Niemerg. “Let’s be honest, when colleges and professional sports teams are looking for the best athletes, they won’t care if the IHSA label is on some transcript or not. They want a volleyball player who can win a college title or a gold medal in the Olympics when she plays for them on a scholarship. The Chicago Bulls want a basketball player who can shoot 3-pointers and help them win another NBA title and the Cubs and Cardinals are looking for a baseball player who can pitch a no-hitter or hit home runs to win a World Series.”