The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) and its broadcast partners at the NFHS Network and PlayOn! Sports announced today that Saturday’s IHSA Semifinal Football Playoff game between Washington High School and Sacred Heart-Griffin High School will be broadcast on statewide television, as well as streamed free online at www.IHSA.tv for a national audience.
The contest, scheduled for 1 pm on November 23 at Sacred Heart-Griffin’s campus in Springfield, will be aired live by Comcast SportsNet Chicago, Springfield’s WCIX and WAOE and WYZZ in Peoria. Viewers are encouraged to use the hashtag #TeamIL in social media to help raise awareness.
“This started as an idea to find a location to show the game for the fans in Washington who won’t be able to make it to Springfield,” said PlayOn! Sports President Tim Eichorst. “As we reached out to folks at the various local television stations and CSN Chicago, we found tremendous support and a desire to do something more. It really materialized from there into an event that is bigger than a football game, one that everyone involved hopes will have an impact on those affected around the state. Each partner has made a significant contribution to pull this together so quickly and we thank them for the support in making this unprecedented broadcast happen.”
The National Weather Service has confirmed that at least 16 tornadoes struck parts of Illinois on Sunday, resulting in Governor Quinn declaring 13 Illinois counties disaster areas. Saturday’s televised broadcast will include information on how, where and what viewers can donate to help those impacted across Illinois.
“The goal now is provide awareness and relief to all of the affected areas throughout the state,” said IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman. “This storm left a path of destruction from Nashville in southern Illinois to Washington to Coal City and beyond. Washington is an incredibly compelling story, given that they are still playing in the playoffs and suffered so much damage from the storm. We hope to use that attention to not only help Washington, but also all of the other Illinois communities who are reeling from this tragedy.”
Hickman cited the outpouring of support for Washington from many neighboring schools and communities that has already taken place, including from its semifinal opponent. "There has been a tremendous level of support from schools and teams around the state to help those communities impacted by this disaster,” said Hickman. “That speaks to the fiber of the parents, educators, and coaches who understand the importance of being a part of team and assisting others when they need it most.”
Sacred Heart-Griffin has organized several charter busses to take Washington residents to and from Saturday’s game. The school will also feed those fans, feed the Washington football team a pre- and post-game meal and has several other fundraisers and drives associated with the game to help their opponent.
Additionally, the IHSA will be donating $1.00 for each ticket sold at the Washington/SHG game to the American Red Cross’ relief effort for this disaster.
The IHSA is encouraging interested viewers to check their local listings for channel availability. The game will be available on over-the-air (non-cable/dish) television in the Peoria (WAOE and WYZZ) and Springfield (WCIX) markets. CSN Chicago also serves those markets on cable/dish, as well as the rest of the state with the exception of counties bordering St. Louis, Missouri due to professional sports network broadcasting regulations. CSN Chicago is also available nationally with the Comcast Sports upgrade package.
“I sometimes wonder if we sensationalize the role of sports in recovery from tragedies like this,” added Hickman. “Any notion of that was dashed when I heard Washington resident Scott Gundy talk about the Washington High School football team on the Today Show on Monday. Communities develop deep bonds with their teams all over our state, and we hope Saturday’s game will provide the residents or Washington, and any other affected communities, a few hours of temporary reprieve from their rebuilding efforts.”
Other items of note regarding donation opportunities to assist impacted communities:
Individuals interested in helping communities affected by the storms in Illinois have a number of opportunities available. Individuals are encouraged to search the following websites for donation items and locations:
- American Red Cross at 800-RED-CROSS
- United Way of South Central Illinois at 618-242-8000
- Salvation Army at 800-SAL-ARMY
The member schools of the Mid-Illini Conference, which includes Washington as well as Canton, Dunlap, East Peoria, Limestone, Metamora, Morton and Pekin, have been actively gathering supplies and donations to help their conference mate. Morton is providing breakfast for the Washington football team this week.
This week’s Bloomington-Normal area Intercity Girls Basketball Tournament, which features Bloomington High School, Normal Community, Normal Community West, Central Catholic and University High School will donate the gate proceeds from all of their games to Washington. They are also collecting donations of money and drinking water that will be taken to the community later this week.
The Chicago Bears, an IHSA partner, will promote awareness for the Washington area by having players and coaches wear Washington t-shirts throughout events during the week. Several Bears players were in the Coal City/Diamond area, which was stuck by an EF-2 tornado, on Tuesday to create awareness and help clean-up.
Broadcast notes: WEEK’s Lee Hall will call play-by-play on the game, former Kansas City Chief James “Boomer” Grigsby (Canton High School/Illinois State University) will provide analysis and Comcast SportsNet Chicago’s Jen Lada will serve as the sideline reporter.
Also note that the broadcast of the Washington/SHG semifinal football game will alter the rebroadcast times for the IHSA Girls Volleyball State Finals. CSN Chicago schedule will now broadcast the IHSA Class 5A Football Semifinal between Washington and Sacred Heart-Griffin live at 1 pm on Saturday, followed by IHSA State Volleyball Class 1A at 3:30 pm, Class 2A at 4:45 pm Class 3A at 7 pm, and Class 4A at 8:15 pm.