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For now, plan is still to have fall sports in the fall, MHSAA reassures its membership

By: MATTHEW B. MOWERY, July 2, 2020, 12:41 pm

For now, the plan remains the same. 

While the governor may have asked the Michigan High School Athletic Association to (again) consider switching sports from the fall and spring seasons — something it had already looked into, and continues to make contingency plans for — as of yet, it has not yet changed its current thought process for scheduling the upcoming school year.

For now, at least, the plan remains to play fall sports in the fall. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s public request came on Tuesday, asking the MHSAA to look into the possibility of moving contact-laden fall sports to the spring, and replacing them with more individual (and outdoor) spring sports. It came near the end of her news conference unveiling the MI Safe Schools: Return to School Roadmap, a plan for which the MHSAA contributed the protocols needed for the safe return of educational athletics in the 2020-21 school year. 

On Wednesday, MHSAA executive director Mark Uyl sent an open letter to the association’s membership, noting that there “have been no changes or updates to the Summer Guidance (No.) 2 document from June 9,” and that the plan — at the moment — is to continue moving ahead as if the schedule for sports seasons will remain unchanged. 

That document was posted to the MHSAA website Thursday morning. 

“All of us must continue to follow both the letter and spirit of this guidance document in doing the right things NOW to create the fall, winter and spring sports opportunities we want,” Uyl said in the letter.

He reiterated those points in a meeting with the leadership of the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association on Wednesday, as well.

The letter states, in part:

“The MHSAA has been working on concepts for the safe return of school sports since March. These concepts will now become the plan as directed by the Roadmap. These three points have guided our planning the past several weeks, and will continue to be our focus in the days ahead.

1. The MHSAA’s current plan is to play all scheduled fall sports in the fall.

2. We will do everything within our control to safely have all three high school sports seasons in 2020-21, even if conditions change that would require creativity to provide those three seasons. We owe it to our kids to plan this way, especially during these uncertain days of the pandemic.

3. Contingency planning has been ongoing since March, and this continues with the release of the Return to School Road Map on June 30. These contingencies reflect our plan to play fall sports as scheduled and to provide three seasons during the school year while also being prepared to operate creatively should that be necessary. One possible contingency for consideration could be a swap of fall and spring sports as there are concerns with indoor sports (volleyball and girls swimming and diving) being able to be conducted in the fall along with differing views on football.”

Uyl’s letter also noted that the MHSAA will continue meeting with the coaching associations for fall sports, as well as representatives of the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAAA) over the next few weeks, to receive feedback and input. That includes a Zoom meeting on July 7 with all head coaching members of the MHSFCA. 

The MHSAA office is scheduled to be closed for all other business from July 3-10.

“Circumstances, data and decisions made at the professional and collegiate ranks with their set fall schedules, along with high school associations in other states, will be valuable and instructive over the next few weeks in finalizing MHSAA plans for the fall. We understand that schools need lead time to plan, and final decisions will be made by late July. It is a challenging balance in waiting as long as possible to have the most current, accurate picture and data points of the probable August situation while also giving everyone involved lead time to adequately prepare and plan,” Uyl’s letter said.

“The only certainty we have had since March is the need to flexible and nimble in light of the public health situation and its ever-changing impact on schools. We will continue to communicate will all involved over the next few weeks as fall details are finalized for our member schools, students, coaches, officials and school communities.”

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RELATED READING:

What does the ‘MI Safe Schools’ return to school roadmap say about high school sports? Here’s a look (July 1)

Gov. Whitmer to MHSAA: Consider moving contact sports back from the fall (June 30)

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• MHSAA extends halt of athletic activities to include practices, scrimmages until at least April 5(March 13)

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