MHSAA plans to proceed with fall sports as scheduled
Fri, 07/17/2020 - 12:08pm caleb
Association says ‘contingency concepts for potential interruptions due to the spread of COVID-19’ will be in place
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
Our student-athletes just want to play, and we’ve gone far too long without them playing. But doing so safely, of course, remains the priority. Our plan moving forward is fall in the fall, starting on time. We’re excited to continue moving forward to bring back sports safely. It’s important for keeping students in our schools and keeping students in our sports programs. We remain grateful to the governor for the opportunity to build the schedule and policies for returning sports to schools. We will continue to support her directives and those of the state and local health departments as we work to create the safest environment for all involved in our activities." – MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl
The Michigan High School Athletic Association announced on Friday, July 17, that it is not planning to swap any fall and spring sports at this time, and it is preparing to have the 2020 fall sports schedule proceed as originally planned with possible contingencies in place due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Michigan High School Athletic Association member schools will begin the 2020-21 school year playing fall sports as traditionally scheduled, but with contingency concepts for potential interruptions due to the spread of COVID-19,” the MHSAA said in a press release on July 17.
On Tuesday, June 30, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said she requested that the MHSAA consider changes to the traditional schedule to move fall sports that can’t adhere to six-foot social distancing guidelines during competition to the 2021 spring season and consider moving some of the spring sports that can social distance to the fall.
“I’m calling on the Michigan High School Athletic Association to consider postponing fall sports that have the impossibility of social distancing as a part of them, consider moving those to the spring and running some of the more individualized sports like track and field or tennis or golf to the fall,” Governor Whitmer said.
Michigan High School Athletic Association officials said they investigated possible swaps and decided they were not “feasible” options.
“The (MHSAA Representative Council) considered a concept that would swap traditional fall and spring sports, but determined that was not a feasible plan. Football, girls volleyball, girls swimming and diving, and boys soccer during the fall are considered moderate or high-risk sports because they include athletes in close contact or are played indoors; they were considered the impetus for potentially switching all fall sports to spring. But traditional spring sports – girls soccer and girls and boys lacrosse – carry similar risk, negating the value of making that full season switch. Moving only selected spring sports, like all low-risk to fall, was not considered sound because it would force student-athletes to pick between sports they’ve previously played,” according to the MHSAA.
The 2020 fall sports season in Michigan is scheduled to start on August 10 with the beginning of football practices. All other fall sports are slated to begin official practice sessions on August 12.
The MHSAA acknowledged that COVID-19 may force delays or cancellations as sports proceed, and current state regulations do not allow for most competition.
“The MHSAA is moving forward with a plan that first calls for all fall sports to be started and played as scheduled. However, if the situation deems it necessary, the start of some or all fall sports practices or competitions could be delayed. The next step in the plan’s progression calls for lower-risk fall sports that can be played to be completed, with higher-risk fall sports postponed until later in the school year. If all fall sports must be suspended, they will be rescheduled during a reconfigured calendar that would see winter sports begin in November followed by the conclusion of fall and spring seasons potentially extending into July 2021,” according to the MHSAA.
“Plans remain reliant on progression by schools and regions across the state according to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s MI Safe Start Plan. Currently two regions are in Phase 5, which allow for limited indoor activity, while the rest are in Phase 4 and unable to host indoor training, practice, or competition,” according to the MHSAA.
“Our student-athletes just want to play, and we’ve gone far too long without them playing. But doing so safely, of course, remains the priority,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. “Our plan moving forward is fall in the fall, starting on time. We’re excited to continue moving forward to bring back sports safely. It’s important for keeping students in our schools and keeping students in our sports programs. We remain grateful to the governor for the opportunity to build the schedule and policies for returning sports to schools. We will continue to support her directives and those of the state and local health departments as we work to create the safest environment for all involved in our activities.”
MHSAA officials said they will continue to update the guidelines as sports teams continue their limited summer work-outs and proceed toward the opening of official practices.
“The MHSAA staff is building COVID-related policies for all fall sports and will make those guidelines and precautions available to member schools as the season approaches. Those policies will follow up what was presented to schools for summer offseason training, which began June 1 across the state and has seen thousands of student-athletes participate,” according to the MHSAA.
Grayling High School is in Region 6, which is under Phase 5 regulations. Fall sports for the Vikings include football, volleyball, cross country, girls golf, and boys soccer.