Latest epidemic order adds another delay for some winter sports
Fri, 01/22/2021 - 3:04pm caleb
Basketball and wrestling, considered “contact” sports, only allowed to have “non-contact” practices through February 21
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
The latest “Gatherings and Face Mask Order” from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services – announced on Friday, January 22 – allows restaurants to re-open for indoor dining service, with restrictions, but it does not allow “contact sports” to resume, leaving a lot of questions to be answered regarding the current high school winter sports season.
For Grayling High School, its varsity skiing program and bowling club have been allowed to practice and compete, but indoor “contact” sports like basketball and wrestling were suspended for weeks before recently being allowed to begin “non-contact” practice sessions.
The Gatherings and Face Mask Order of January 22, 2021 continues the same restrictions on sports as the previous version through February 21: “Gatherings for the purpose of contact sports are prohibited unless all participants, teams, and venues comply with the enhanced testing regimen specified in the Testing and Additional Mitigation Measures for Athletic Practice and Play During Statewide Athletics ‘Pause’ section of MDHHS’s document entitled Interim Guidance for Athletics, or a school is participating in an MDHHS testing pilot program. Gatherings for the purpose of non-contact sports are permitted, provided that gatherings do not exceed 25% of the total occupancy limits established by the State Fire Marshal or a local fire marshal and participants maintain 6 feet of distance from each other at all times.”
The Michigan High School Athletic Association responded to the announcement of the revised order on Friday afternoon, January 22.
“Governor (Gretchen) Whitmer and MDHHS announced that winter contact sports – including MHSAA activities in girls and boys basketball, competitive cheer, ice hockey, and wrestling – must remain non-contact through February 21. The previous emergency order was set to expire at the end of January and would’ve allowed those sports to begin contact activities February 1,” according to the Michigan High School Athletic Association.
“We found out about this decision at 9:30 a.m. like everyone else, and we will address it as quickly as possible after taking the weekend to collect more information,” said Mark Uyl, Executive Director of the Michigan High School Athletic Association. “We did not anticipate this delay in winter contact practices and competition, and today’s announcement has created many new questions.”
“Obviously, this is disappointing to thousands of athletes who have been training with their teams over the last week and watching teams in other states around Michigan play for the last two months,” Uyl said.
Grayling High School’s varsity football team recently ended its 2020 playoff run with two postseason games in January of 2021. Football is a “contact” sport, but the programs were able to finish their seasons through “an MDHHS testing pilot program” as stipulated in the Gatherings and Face Mask Order.