MHSAA still considering next steps for fall, winter sports
Thu, 12/10/2020 - 3:13pm caleb
‘No action taken’ during Representative Council’s meeting on December 9 after MDHHS adds 12 days to order that suspends high school in-person learning
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
The Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Representative Council met on Wednesday, December 9, but it did not announce a new plan for a possible resumption of sports.
In November, in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the state, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services released a new “Gatherings and Face Mask Order” that forced the suspension of high school in-person learning and organized sports for three weeks. In response to the order, the MHSAA’s plan was to resume football and volleyball playoffs in mid-December and to resume winter sports practices on December 9 with winter sports games and meets slated to start in early January.
The Gatherings and Face Mask Order was set to expire on December 8, but the MDHHS recently extended the order for 12 more days, and now it is effective through December 20.
State officials, during recent televised updates, said the restrictions in the Gatherings and Face Mask Order will likely be removed or reduced piece by piece and not all at one time. In addition to the restrictions involving high school in-person learning and sports, the order also limits gatherings, suspends in-person learning at colleges and universities, and closes indoor dine-in service at restaurants and bars.
State officials have not said what will be re-opened first, but Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan Governor, and Robert Gordon, Director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said during an update on December 7 that resuming in-person learning at high schools is of higher priority than resuming sports.
“As a parent of a high schooler and as the governor of Michigan I believe that our first priority should be getting students back in the classroom safely. That, I believe, is paramount,” Governor Whitmer said.
“The first priority is reopening high schools for education and sustaining that,” Gordon said. “I think when it comes to sports there’s a range of risk levels and so at one end you have individual activities that are outdoors and where people are spaced out, at another level you have contact sports outdoors, at another level you have indoor contact sports, and as you go through those levels the level of risk increases and we have to think carefully about moving through them.”
“So I will just leave it where the governor did. Our first priority – and also lower risk than a lot of those activities – is getting the schools open for education,” Gordon said.
The MHSAA expressed disappointment following the announcement of the 12-day extension of the Gatherings and Face Mask Order.
“We realize the crisis our medical caregivers and first responders are navigating and understand the need to continue the pause. However, the MHSAA had provided a detailed plan to both Governor Whitmer and MDHHS that would have completed fall tournaments with no spectators as safely as possible during the month of December along with allowing winter sport practices to resume. While we are disappointed in today’s announcement, we will continue to look forward as we remain committed to play three sports seasons to their conclusion. The MHSAA Representative Council will meet on Wednesday of this week to chart out another plan for finishing fall and restarting winter,” said Mark Uyl, Executive Director of the Michigan High School Athletic Association.
The Representative Council met on Wednesday, December 9, but the meeting did not yield an adjusted plan.
“There was no action taken,” according to a statement from the MHSAA on December 9. “With activities remaining paused until December 20, and that announcement coming less than 48 hours ago, today’s Council meeting was purely informational as members consider next steps for fall and winter sports that have been put on hold. Executive Director Mark Uyl remains in conversation with representatives of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s office. The Council will convene December 16 to formulate plans for when school sports are allowed to resume activity.”
For Grayling High School, its only remaining fall sport at the time of the suspension was football. The Vikings were slated to host the Negaunee Miners in the Division 6, Region 21 championship game.