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With COVID-19 numbers quickly rising again, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, MDHHS shut down Michigan’s high school athletics again

By: MATTHEW B. MOWERY, November 15, 2020, 6:16 pm

It’s no surprise that 2020 has been one of those years with two Friday the 13ths, and both of them will be the signposts that mark a sea change in the status of high school athletics.

Back in March, Governor Gretchen Whitmer halted all athletics activities the week of the year’s first Friday the 13th, and eight months later, now that the second one has rolled around, two days ago, it appears all sports will be halted again.

Due to the resurgence in COVID-19 cases and deaths, as well as the stresses on hospital capacities, Gov. Whitmer announced several increases in restrictions around the state Sunday evening, including the halting of high school sports, as well as in-person high school education. 

The order, issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, pushes the state back to Phase 2 of the recovery, and will take effect on Wednesday. 

It’s part of a three-week pause, from Nov. 18-Dec. 8, which also halts in-person learning for colleges and universities, indoor dining and re-closes theaters, stadiums, arenas, bowling centers, ice rinks and indoor water parks, among other things. 

In response, the MHSAA released a statement noting that all ongoing tournaments for fall sports and practices for winter sports will be halted for three weeks, but that it would try to complete the fall tournaments when resumption was allowed.  

“We understand the need for action, and we will explore all options to complete our fall tournaments when restrictions are lifted,” MHSAA executive director Mark Uyl said in a news release. “We will assess everything over the next three weeks relative to fall and winter sports and come up with a plan that keeps us connected to our goal, for months, of having three seasons that are played to their conclusions.” 

In the spring, the seasons halted in boys basketball districts, and girls regionals, and just prior to hockey, boys swimming and gymnastics finals. This time, it appears they’ll be halted prior to girls swimming and volleyball finals (Nov. 20-21), and football regionals (11-player) and semifinals (8-player). The finals have already been contested for boys and girls cross country, boys soccer, boys (Lower Peninsula) and girls (Upper Peninsula) tennis and girls golf (LP). 

While the winter season was never completely finished, the spring season in Michigan — which had practices starting the week of the initial halting of sports — never got started. It may end up being the same way for winter sports, many of which had practices beginning either last week or this.

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