• Michigan

MHSAA approves start of competition for volleyball, boys soccer, girls swimming in two regions; rest of state still awaiting clarification from governor’s office

By: MATTHEW B. MOWERY, August 20, 2020, 3:06 pm

After two days of meeting, the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Representative Council announced the results of its deliberation on going ahead with the moderate-risk sports of volleyball, boys soccer and girls swimming.

And it’s a split decision.

The regions of the state where indoor facilities are open — Regions 6 and 8; the northern-most tip of the Lower Peninsula and all of the Upper Peninsula — may begin competition in those sports on schedule, starting Friday.

The rest? Still waiting, and practicing outdoors. 

The MHSAA’s news release indicated that the association was prepared to go ahead with competition in those three sports in all regions, pending resolution of questions in a pair of conflicting executive orders from the Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office — resolution that has not yet come.

And a decision on those sports for Regions 1-5 and 7 won’t be forthcoming until that resolution is received. 

MHSAA executive director Mark Uyl said both in his appearance on “The Huge Show” Thursday afternoon, as well as the open guidance letter he penned to high schools Thursday, that an order addressing the clearances for those sports is expected next week. 

“Our Council has made clear it is ready to offer students these opportunities, pending approval from Governor Whitmer that we may do so,” MHSAA executive director Mark Uyl said in the news release. “We have been told that within a week, future guidance will address athletic issues that exist in current executive orders. We are awaiting that guidance.

“The MHSAA and Representative Council are committed to following all current and future Executive Orders and safety precautions. However, we need more answers before we can give all of our member schools the go-ahead to play each other again, and the majority of our schools are in regions that are not yet allowed to take part in volleyball, soccer and swim.”

Schools in Regions 6 and 8 may conduct volleyball events with spectators present, but the total number of in the facility must be either 250 people, — participants, officials, game personnel, media and fans combined — or 25 percent of the facility’s capacity, whichever is smaller. Pools are also limited to 25 percent of “the established bather capacity.”

Outdoor competitions in those two regions may have 500 people, or 25 percent of the facility’s capacity, whichever is smallest. 

In Uyl’s letter to schools, it noted that teams from Regions 1-5 and 7 could travel to Regions 6 and 8 and compete under the current limitations from the executive orders. 

The MHSAA also announced that football and spring sports may have an additional 16 contact days for voluntary practices involving only athletes from the same school. For football, these contact days must be scheduled between Aug. 24-Oct. 31, while spring sports (baseball, softball, girls soccer, track and field, girls and boys lacrosse, boys golf, Upper Peninsula girls golf, Lower Peninsula girls tennis, UP boys tennis), the practices must be scheduled between Sept. 8-Oct. 31. 

After Nov. 1, football and the spring sports may conduct skill work with a coach and up to four players, while an unlimited number of athletes may do conditioning work with coaches. 

The proposed calendar for integrating football into the spring schedule won’t be announced until after a later meeting of the Representative Council. 

The guidance letter also noted that sideline cheer — a sport that does not have an MHSAA postseason of its own — is allowed outdoors until the start of the preseason downtime for competitive cheer on Oct. 25.

“Our cheerleaders put in just as much work, in terms of conditioning and getting ready for the season, as what certainly other sports do, so they’re going to be able to continue their activities through the fall,” Uyl said in his appearance “The Huge Show” Thursday afternoon.

“That’s just yet another group of kids — if the school permits — that we’re allowing to get together with their coach, and to continue to practice, continue that emotional and social well-being.”

Middle school fall sports — with the exception of football — may begin on Monday, at the discretion of the school and leagues. 



Announcement from MHSAA on fate of volleyball, swimming and soccer postponed (Aug. 19)

• MHSAA’s Uyl explains decision to postpone football: ‘What we were getting from our schools … was really to pump the brakes’  (Aug. 17)

MHSAA pulls plug on fall football, announcing decision to move it to the spring (Aug. 14)

College cancellations won’t force MHSAA’s hand, executive director Mark Uyl says; ‘Don’t make decisions just because somebody else did’ (Aug. 12)

Lansing School District cancels fall extracurricular activities, including athletics (Aug. 7)

MHSAA Representative Council gives thumbs-up to on-time start for lower-risk fall sports, tables decision on competition for high-risk sports (July 29)

• MHSAA announces plan to begin 2020-21 school year as traditionally scheduled, leaving football (for now) in the fall (July 17)

• For now, plan is still to have fall sports in the fall, MHSAA reassures its membership (July 2)

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)

• New allowance from from governor’s office doesn’t change much: Schools allowed to resume sports activities prior to end of 2019-20 school year (June 12)

• MHSAA updates guidelines, allowing northern Michigan schools to move workouts indoors starting Wednesday (June 9)

• MHSAA adjusts to curveball of early lifting of stay-at-home order, amends guidance doc for reopening sports  (June 2)

• Gov. Whitmer lifts stay-at-home order early, providing increasing clarity on ‘when’ high school sports can resume (June 1)

• MHSAA releases ‘Guidance for Opening School Sports’ document, outlining a roadmap of ‘how’ high school sports can resume in Michigan (May 29)

• Friday’s roadmap from MHSAA will give ‘how’ school athletics will return, but maybe not ‘when’: ‘We still can’t rush this’ (May 28)

• MHSAA gives schools heads up that ‘Guidance for Opening School Sports’ is coming next week (May 22)

• Q&A with MHSAA executive director Mark Uyl, after Friday’s decision to cancel remaining 2019-20 sports seasons (April 3)

• MHSAA executive director Mark Uyl explains agonizing decision to cancel remainder of winter and spring seasons; ‘My heart absolutely breaks for kids in the class of 2020’ (April 3)

• MHSAA officially cancels spring and winter sports, putting an end to the 2019-20 athletic year (April 3)

• Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announces closure of Michigan schools for remainder of 2019-20, stipulates K-12 sports are suspended ‘while state of emergency … is in effect’ (April 2)

• With Gov. Whitmer reportedly set to close Michigan schools for remainder of academic year, can cancellation of high school sports be far behind?  (March 30)

• ‘What now?’ and ‘What next?’: A look at how Michigan’s prep athletes are coping with the ‘pause’ of the postseason, and what it might theoretically take to ‘unpause’ (March 17)

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

• MHSAA puts postseason on pause due to concerns over COVID-19 (March 12)

• UPDATED: MHSAA postseasons impacted by coronavirus; games put on pause, postponed indefinitely (March 11)