Some winter sports can resume, others limited to non-contact practices
Wed, 01/13/2021 - 8:15pm caleb
After adjustments to MDHHS epidemic order, wrestling and basketball allowed to restart but competition delayed until February
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced changes to its “Gatherings and Face Mask Order” on January 13 that allow some winter sports to resume, but others will only be able to conduct non-contact practices until February.
The new order’s “Organized Sports Gathering Restrictions” section says “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.”
“In order to support physical and mental health we’ll be permitting indoor athletics provided there is distancing and masking. Young people can practice sports in gyms with distancing and masking. Playing those same sports competitively, if it involves contact, is not allowed,” said Robert Gordon, Director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “Playing outdoor contact sports – except with the special testing under the department’s rules – is also not allowed.”
The Michigan High School Athletic Association, following the announcement of changes from the MDHHS on Wednesday, January 13, said winter sports teams could resume practicing on January 16.
“Three more Michigan High School Athletic Association non-contact winter sports will be allowed to restart practice Saturday, January 16, per the updated epidemic order announced today by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), while four winter contact sports may begin indoor practices Saturday with non-contact activities,” according to the MHSAA.
“Girls gymnastics, girls and boys bowling, and girls and boys swimming & diving, as ‘non-contact’ sports, may also begin competition before the end of this month – swimming & diving January 22 and gymnastics and bowling January 25. Masks will be required of all participants except when they are actively participating in gymnastics and swimming & diving. Spectators will be capped at 100 persons in school gyms or 250 in stadiums and arenas, per MDHHS orders,” according to the Michigan High School Athletic Association.
(Grayling High School does not have girls gymnastics or boys swimming/diving programs, but it does have club team for boys and girls bowling.)
Winter sports like wrestling and boys/girls basketball are allowed to start limited practices on January 16 under the revised Gatherings and Face Mask Order.
“Basketball, competitive cheer, ice hockey, and wrestling are considered ‘contact’ sports and may begin non-contact practices January 16, with their first competitions scheduled for February 1. Because of the later start to competition schedules in those sports, the MHSAA will adjust its tournament dates for those four to conclude on later dates than what is currently scheduled – those dates will be announced later this week,” according to the MHSAA.
The winter season also includes boys and girls downhill skiing, which started in December. Skiing, because it is an outdoor sport, was not suspended by the Gatherings and Face Mask Order.
“We are glad to have three more sports join skiing in returning to full activity, but we understand the disappointment and frustration on the part of our athletes and coaches whose sports are not yet able to restart completely,” said Mark Uyl, MHSAA Executive Director. “We will continue to adjust schedules to provide all of our winter teams as substantial an experience this season as possible, as part of our greater plan this school year to play all three seasons to conclusion.”
“We have shown with our remaining fall sports this month that our schools can participate safely, and we’re confident teams will continue to take all the appropriate precautions as we jump back into indoor winter activities,” Uyl said.
The MHSAA also said spring sports teams can begin “non-contact” workouts with four players at a time on January 16.