MHSAA cancels 2020 spring sports season
Michigan High School Athletic Association announces cancellation of unfinished 2019-2020 winter sports playoffs and all of the 2020 spring campaign
We are heartbroken to not be able to provide these opportunities for Michigan’s student-athletes, and especially seniors. We continue to hear from dozens asking us to hold out hope. But safety always must come first, and Governor Whitmer is making courageous decisions to safeguard the people of our state. We understand as much as anyone how much school sports mean to athletes and their communities. We had ideas and hopes for finishing winter and spring and helping bring some sort of normalcy after this long break. But this is the correct decision, and we will play our part in bringing schools and communities together again when the time is right." – Mark Uyl, MHSAA Executive Director
It’s over. The Michigan High School Athletic Association – at approximately 1 p.m. on Friday, April 3 – announced that it was officially cancelling unfinished 2019-2020 winter sports tournaments and all of the 2020 spring sports campaign due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“The Michigan High School Athletic Association has canceled the remainder of the 2019-20 winter and spring sports seasons, in compliance with the Thursday (April 2) ‘state of disaster’ directive by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer closing school buildings and moving education online for the remainder of the school year to help decrease the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus,” MHSAA officials said.
It’s been one month since practices began for the 2020 spring sports season on Monday, March 9. At the time, the 2019-2020 winter sports season was moving into the regional round of the girls basketball playoffs, and the district tournaments were set to begin for boys basketball. Tournaments for girls gymnastics, boys ice hockey, and boys swimming/diving were also in progress, according to the MHSAA.
Four weeks ago, on Thursday, March 12, the Michigan High School Athletic Association suspended its winter playoffs for all sports due to coronavirus concerns. The suspension of the winter season on March 12 did not affect Grayling High School student athletes; the ski team finished its year in February, the varsity girls basketball team ended its season on March 2, the state qualifiers for wrestling were done on March 7, and the varsity boys basketball squad ended its playoff run on March 11.
Spring sports practices in Michigan started on Monday, March 9. For Grayling High School, the spring season includes baseball, softball, girls soccer, track and field, girls tennis, and boys golf.
Teams practiced from March 9 through Thursday, March 12. The school cancelled all of its practices and activities for March 13-15, extending the cancellation to March 16 through April 5 following Governor Whitmer’s order to close schools for three weeks. Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-21 – the “stay home, stay safe” order – extended the school closure to April 13 by suspending “activities that are not necessary to sustain or protect life.”
Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-35, announced on Thursday, April 2, mandated that school buildings in the state of Michigan must remain closed for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year unless emergency COVID-19 measures are rescinded.
“In-person instruction for pupils in kindergarten through grade 12 is suspended for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year and school buildings used for the provision of K-12 education must remain closed for the purpose of providing K-12 education in person for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, unless restrictions on public gatherings and use of school buildings are lifted before the end of the 2019-2020 school year. K-12 school sports activities and other in-person extracurricular school activities are suspended while any state of emergency or state of disaster prompted by COVID-19 is in effect,” according to 2020-35.
Though the executive order seemed to leave open the possibility of resuming school activities, including sports, with its phrase “unless restrictions on public gatherings and use of school buildings are lifted before the end of the 2019-2020 school year,” the MHSAA put a firmer answer in place with its announcement on Friday. MHSAA officials said they received a lot of requests to wait, but they felt it was the right decision to cancel the season now due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are heartbroken to not be able to provide these opportunities for Michigan’s student-athletes, and especially seniors. We continue to hear from dozens asking us to hold out hope. But safety always must come first, and Governor Whitmer is making courageous decisions to safeguard the people of our state,” said Mark Uyl, MHSAA Executive Director. “We understand as much as anyone how much school sports mean to athletes and their communities. We had ideas and hopes for finishing winter and spring and helping bring some sort of normalcy after this long break. But this is the correct decision, and we will play our part in bringing schools and communities together again when the time is right.”
“For now, we cannot state strongly enough that all students, staffs, and others follow the guidelines established to slow the spread of this virus – we all must do our part,” Uyl said.
With regard to the unfinished winter playoffs, those tournaments will not have champions for the 2019-2020 season, MHSAA officials said.
“Because the five winter sports were not able to conclude with finals, no champions will be awarded in those sports for 2019-20. However, championships won at earlier rounds of those tournaments (district or regional) will continue to stand,” according to the MHSAA.
For now, the MHSAA is looking to wrap up the abbreviated 2019-2020 sports campaign and move into the 2020 fall season.
“The MHSAA will in coming weeks provide guidelines and other information pertinent to this unusual offseason as attention is turned to preparing for fall 2020,” MHSAA officials said.
Official practices for the 2020 fall football season are scheduled to start on August 10.
Practices for other 2020 fall sports – cross country, volleyball, boys soccer, girls golf – are slated to begin on August 12.