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Area youth football season suspended

"It’s with a very heavy heart that we have to announce that we are canceling our 2020 season," wrote Brittany Elliot on the SJO Youth Football Facebook page nearly two weeks ago. The decision mirrors others from youth football programs from the state due to mandates by state offices restricting youth sports competition.

Four days ago, Governor JB Pritzker announced new restrictions on youth sports in the state that would have ended the youth football program's season on August 15.

"I know our hearts break when we hear the word 'restrictions,' especially when it comes to our children's love for their sports. Whether this year is their first time on the court or it's their senior season - this isn't the news anyone wants to hear," said Governor Pritzker during his pandemic update this week. "But with rising rates of spread of the virus, with rising positivity rates throughout Illinois and the United States, this is a situation where the toughest choice is also the safest one. Therefore today, my administration is releasing new guidance restricting youth and adult recreational sports in Illinois. We have worked in consultation with the governing bodies of many of these organized sports programs, and collectively we hope that, when metrics and risks improve measurably, we will be able to restart these sports."

Elliot wrote the decision, made long before the governor's latest decree, was tough despite working diligently the past couple of months to figure out some way to salvage the season. She said it wasn't easy.

"We understand that football is an important outlet for our kids so we are going to continue to meet as a board and hopefully come up with some creative ideas to keep the kids involved."

The Spartan program is the smallest in the Central Illinois Youth Football League. Champaign, Danville, Rantoul and Urbana are the other league members that fielded teams from three age groups.

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