A possibly significant change is coming next summer, depending on how schools determine their basketball and volleyball scheduling for the 2018-19 academic year.
On Dec. 6, the IHSA announced in a news release that member schools had approved five by-law amendment proposals, two of which remove the limit on the number of tournaments basketball (both boys and girls) and volleyball teams may participate in.
Online ballots were tabulated and certified in the IHSA office that day following the organization's annual by-law referendum that ended Dec. 5. A total of 609 of the IHSA's 811 member schools (75.1 percent) participated in the balloting, the third-highest percentage in 21 years of recordkeeping.
In a follow-up email, IHSA Assistant Executive Director Matt Troha said the maximum number of games in a season won't change in 31 for basketball and 35 for volleyball, excluding postseason contests.
"These changes allow more flexibility in how (teams) get to that point," he said.
The current limitation is three tournaments and the new amendments will take effect on July 1, 2018.
"I think it makes scheduling a little easier," said Steeleville Athletic Director Bryce Bainter. "Most teams are in three tournaments and in a conference, so that takes up a good chunk of the games.
"I think it will give teams and athletic directors more flexibility in scheduling."
Steeleville's boys basketball team will compete in three tournaments this season, the recently completed Murphysboro/Trico tournament, the Sesser-Valier Holiday Tournament (Dec. 26-30) and the 54th annual Sparta Mid-Winter Classic (Jan. 16-20).
The Lady Warriors are only competing in two tournaments, the season-opening Sparta Tip-Off Classic and the Wesclin/Lebanon Christmas Tournament (Dec. 26-30).
"There's usually a tournament around Thanksgiving, Christmas and the mid-winter," Bainter said. "I know, back even when I was in high school, a lot of schools were in two tournaments and you may see schools go back to that because it gives coaches more time to compare."
Chester boys basketball also competed in the Murphysboro/Trico tournament and will participate in the Sesser-Valier Holiday Tournament. The Yellow Jackets have their own tournament, the Chester Invitational Tournament (Jan. 8-13), to start the new year.
The removal of the tournament cap could, theoretically, allow Chester to participate in the Sparta Mid-Winter Tournament, but that doesn't appear likely anytime soon.
"I don't think it's going to change anything we do here at Chester," said Chester Athletic Director Jeremy Blechle. "I think our schedule's pretty solid. I don't see us going out and searching for more tournaments."
On the girls' side, the Lady Yellow Jackets also participated in the Sparta Tip-Off Classic, will play in the Wesclin/Lebanon Christmas Tournament and have their own New Year's tournament in the Lady Jacket Mid-Winter Classic (Jan. 2-6).
"If Coach (Brad) Norman or Coach (Pat) Knowles were interested in a fourth tournament, we would consider it," Blechle said. "You have sixteen regular-season games and if you're playing 15 games in tournaments, you're playing 31 games."
IHSA schools did reject one of the proposals, which would have reduced the number of summer contact days from 25 to 20. The proposal was rejected by a narrow 13 votes, with 305 schools voting "no," 292 voting "yes" and 10 having "no opinion."
"We have actually seen proposals to shorten it for the past few years," Troha said in an email. "Just a mindset among some that we are doing too much in summer and it hurts multi-sport athletes."
Other proposals being approved were to allow baseball and softball teams to play more than five games in a tournament if it occurs during the school's spring break and increases the limit of regular-season contests in boys and girls bowling from 20 to 25.
Another approved proposal grants eligibility to a student who has received a legislative waiver, who lives in a unit district with one high school, and whose parent is on the faculty of a school in the district.
In the current by-law, the parent must be on the faculty of the high school. This by-law goes into effect on January 5, 2018.