No delays in the start of winter practices and competitions, MHSAA says
Despite the rising COVID-19 case numbers across the state, there will be no delay in the start of winter sports practices and competitions, the Michigan High School Athletic Association announced Friday afternoon.
The MHSAA’s Representative Council met Thursday and hammered out the decision, along with guidelines — limiting competitors and spectators — for the winter sports.
“The Council believes it is safer to begin Winter practices on time, and keep athletes in school programs where safety precautions are always in effect,” MHSAA executive director Mark Uyl said in a news release. “With the vastly different circumstances faced by schools in different regions all over the state, an on-time start still allows schools to decide when they feel most comfortable beginning activity — and allows all of them to slowly ramp up their frequency of activity and numbers of spectators attending competitions.
“But let’s be clear: Our statewide COVID-19 numbers have to get better. In order for our schools to continue playing sports this winter, and in order for fans to be there to cheer them on, we must continue working to slow down this virus.”
Scrimmages have been ruled out for winter sports, as they were in the fall, and a maximum of four competing teams will be allowed at regular-season competitions for competitive cheer, gymnastics, swimming and diving, and wrestling. Skiing and bowling will both be restricted to 72 competitors per event.
Basketball and hockey may only compete once per day.
Two spectators per participating athlete will be allowed in to the indoor events, but the MHSAA said it would possibly reconsider the limits on crowds later in the winter season, while adhering to the emergency orders from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
“The guidance we have to follow is from Health and Human Services. There are a lot of well-intentioned people out there — I know I’ve gotten a lot of free legal advice after the state Supreme Court and the executive order situation was ongoing. Unless folks out there have a law degree, I’m really good in terms of the legal input and advice, in terms of what we have to follow, in terms of masks and limitations,” Uyl said in Wednesday’s appearance on “The Huge Show” radio program. “Our Health and Human Services is run by professional medical people, and that’s the guidance we’ll continue to follow, moving ahead.”
Face coverings must be worn by athletes in sports — basketball, competitive cheer, hockey and wrestling — where social distancing cannot be maintained, but are not required while in competition for gymnastics, bowling, skiing and swimming and diving — although they are required for those athletes when not in active participation in the contest.
• Will winter sports start on time? MHSAA plans to give guidance to schools after Thursday’s meeting of Representative Council (Oct. 22)
• MHSAA: No changes to mask requirements, after Monday’s emergency order by MDHHS (Oct. 6)
• MHSAA tweaks cross country and swimming/diving tournaments to minimize number of participants, reverts girls golf to traditional field (Oct. 2)
• No more empty stadiums for MHSAA: Governor’s new EO allows increase in spectator numbers, starting Oct. 9 (Sept. 30)
• MHSAA offers guidance on Governor’s new mask Executive Order: ‘It is the MHSAA’s expectation that all members comply’ (Sept. 10)
• MASK UP: Gov. Whitmer clarifies mask requirement for fall sports with EO requiring them for volleyball, soccer and football (Sept. 9)
• Reversed field: MHSAA will indeed play football this fall, with shortened regular season (Sept. 3)
• Gov. Whitmer allows of reopening of gyms and pools next week; MHSAA to play football despite MDHHS recommendation against contact sports (Sept. 3)
• Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says decision on reopening gyms, indoor athletic facilities coming ‘very soon’ (Sept. 2)
• Still awaiting answers from governor’s office on fate of fall sports in limbo, MHSAA admits ‘the clock is ticking’ (Aug. 26)
• MHSAA adds offseason football practice dates, hopes to have spring season set-up settled by mid-September (Aug. 20)
• MHSAA approves start of competition for volleyball, boys soccer, girls swimming in two regions; rest of state still awaiting clarification from governor’s office (Aug. 20)
• 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)