EAST LANSING – The Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) provided an update for member schools last Friday. In it they announced that fall sports would be played as traditionally scheduled. In late June Governor Whitmer had asked the MHSAA to consider flipping the fall and spring seasons due to the nature of several fall sports. Several fall sports were considered to be high risk due to contact (football, and boys soccer) or because they are played indoor (volleyball, and girls swimming).
The MHSAA Representative Council met virtually with the MHSAA staff last Wednesday to discuss plans for the fall and develop contingency plans for a possible COVID interruption. The council will meet again at the end of July to finalize plans leading up to the August 10 start of football practice. All other fall sports are scheduled to begin practice on the 12th.
“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.”
If the situation warrants it, changes to the current plan will be made. They include: Delaying the start of some or all fall sports and practices, playing some low risk fall sports while delaying high-risk sports, or if fall sports are postponed or suspended, resuming them using a reconfigured calendar that would see a completion of winter sports, followed by a fall and spring season that could potentially extend into July of 2021.
The council did consider Governor Whitmer’s request to swap seasons, but realized that there are several spring sports that would be problematic if switched. Boys and girls lacrosse and girls soccer are considered “high-risk” eliminating the safety gains achieved by flipping them to the fall. Moving only selected “low-risk sports to the fall would force athletes to pick between sports they have previously played.
The return-to-play plan is dependent on regions moving from Phase 4 to Phase 5 of the governors Safe Start Plan. Two regions are currently in Phase 4 and are unable to allow indoor training, practice or games including Beaverton and Gladwin. Schools are still required to follow the “Summer Guidance” issued by the MHSAA issued on June 9.
“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,” continued Uyl. Even with the plans released by the MHSAA last week everything is still contingent of the state of the COVID-19 pandemic in Michigan.