The purpose of the Illinois High School Association is to provide leadership for the development, supervision and promotion of good sportsmanship in interscholastic competition and other activities in which its member schools choose to engage. Participation in such interscholastic activities offers eligible students experiences in an educational setting which provide enrichment to the educational experience.
Our Mission Statement
The IHSA governs the equitable participation in interscholastic athletics and activities that enrich the educational experience.
Founded on December 27, 1900, the Illinois High School Association is a private, not-for-profit organization with more than 800 member high schools in Illinois. The IHSA is headquartered in Bloomington, Illinois, and is not funded by tax dollars or administered by the government in the state of Illinois.
The principals who make up the IHSA Board of Directors
volunteer their time and energy to serve the IHSA and its member schools. Each Board member represents a geographic division in the state after being nominated and then elected in a vote by other principals in that division.
The IHSA staff
administers the state tournaments in all IHSA sanctioned activities and sports, including the selection of State Series sites, assignment of officials and on-site state final management. The staff is responsible for the education and enforcement of the by-laws that its member schools vote into existence.
The rules that govern the setup and scheduling of each state tournament are known as the Terms & Conditions. Every sport and activity has a geographically diverse Advisory Committee that can offer recommendations to change the Terms & Conditions. A committee of Athletic Directors provides feedback on each recommendation to give the Board of Directors feedback from several groups before they cast the deciding vote.
Any member school can propose a new by-law or a change to an existing by-law. Those proposals are reviewed by the IHSA Legislative Commission
, a 35-person group of Principals and Athletic Directors from around the state. The proposed changes are then reviewed for all IHSA member schools at mandatory Town Hall Meetings held at 28 different high schools throughout the state each November. The Legislative Commissioners then vote on whether each proposal should appear on an all-school ballot based on the feedback of the member schools that attend their Town Hall Meetings. The proposals that are moved forward by the Legislative Commission are voted on by every member school and must have a simple majority to become a by-law.
The IHSA offers 15 statewide championship series for boys. The series (and the year the first state champion was crowned) are: Baseball (1940), Basketball (1908), Bowling (2003), Cross Country (1946), Football (1974), Golf (1916), Gymnastics (1952), Lacrosse (2018), Soccer (1972), Swimming & Diving (1932), Tennis (1912), Track & Field (1893), Volleyball (1992), Water Polo (2002), and Wrestling (1937).
The series are conducted during the school year as follows: Fall — Golf, Soccer, Cross Country, and Football; Winter — Swimming & Diving, Wrestling, and Basketball, and Bowling; Spring — Lacrosse, Tennis, Track and Field, Gymnastics, Volleyball, Water Polo, and Baseball.
Girls may compete on boys teams under certain circumstances. Wrestling and football are the boys sports with the most female participants.
The IHSA offers 17 statewide championship series for girls. The series (and the year the first state champion was crowned) are: Badminton (1977), Basketball (1977), Bowling (1973), Competitive Cheerleading (2006), Competitive Dance (2013), Cross Country (1979), Golf (1975), Gymnastics (1977), Lacrosse (2018), Soccer (1988), Softball (1976), Swimming & Diving (1975), Tennis (1972), Track & Field (1973), Volleyball (1975), Water Polo (2002), and Wrestling (2021).
The series are conducted during the school year as follows: Fall — Golf, Tennis, Cross Country, Swimming & Diving, and Volleyball; Winter — Bowling, Competitive Cheerleading, Competitive Dance, Gymnastics, Wrestling, and Basketball; Spring — Lacrosse, Track & Field, Badminton, Soccer, Water Polo, and Softball.
Boys may not compete on girls teams except in Competitive Cheerleading and Competitive Dance.
The IHSA offers state championships in Bass Fishing, Chess, Debate-Policy-Public Forum-Lincoln Douglas-Student Congress, Drama-1Act Contest Play-Group Interpretation-Short Film Festival-Musical Theatre Review, Journalism-18 Categories, Music (in separate Solo & Ensemble and Organization Contests), Scholastic Bowl, and Speech-15 Individual Events.
Through its Officials Department, the IHSA provides the member schools with a listing of more than 14,000 active athletic officials in Baseball, Basketball, Competitive Cheerleading, Competitive Dance, Cross Country, Football, Boys Gymnastics, Girls Gymnastics, Boys Lacrosse, Girls Lacrosse, Soccer, Softball, Swimming & Diving, Track & Field, Volleyball, Water Polo, and Wrestling. Each official who receives reimbursement for officiating a contest between member schools must be registered with the IHSA. Athletic officials are required to attend rules meetings each year to learn the rules, officiating techniques and skills necessary to provide for the proper conduct of interscholastic competition between school squads. Many also attend clinics during the year. In addition, the IHSA enrolls member officials in NFIOA.
The official Web Site contains "everything you'd ever want to know about the IHSA" and then some. It contains pages for every IHSA athletic and non-athletic activity, real time scoring for most state final tournaments, the Officials Department, and many other pages. The IHSA Constitution, By-laws and Board Policies are also on the Web site.
Opened to the public in January, 1996, IHSA.org is the association's primary mode of communication with its member schools and licensed officials, as well as media, parents, students, and fans. In a typical school year IHSA.org receives more than 100 million page views from about 3 million unique visitors.
IHSA provides catastrophic injury insurance protection for students involved in all state tournament series. Guided by the efforts of its Sports Medicine Advisory Committee and Illinois Advisory Council on Player Safety, the IHSA highlights the steps it has made in the name of student-athletes safety via its initiative and website, Play Smart. Play Hard.
A full-time staff of 23, operating from the Association's office in Bloomington, is charged with the responsibility to administer the activities according to the IHSA purpose and within the framework of the Constitution and By-laws.
The IHSA maintains a clear channel of communication between member schools and persons associated with member schools through numerous direct mailings, other publications, pamphlets, and information posted on the IHSA's Web Site.
State Final Television Coverage
The Boys Football championship games and the Boys and Girls Basketball state final tournaments are broadcast on the IHSA Television Network, a network of basic cable stations throughout Illinois which cover IHSA programming. These and most other state championships are streamed directly over the Internet on IHSA.TV.
Add A. Tude
The nation's first sportsmanship mascot first appeared at the inaugural Sportsmanship Summit on September 29, 1997. Now Add A. Tude™ appears at IHSA state final tournaments and visits member school through a regular year-long booking program. Add A. Tude™ plays a key role in sportsmanship education and promotion campaigns conducted by IHSA in conjunction with the Illinois Elementary School Association (IESA).