With COVID-19 numbers quickly rising again, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, MDHHS shut down Michigan’s high school athletics again
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.
• No delays in the start of winter practices and competitions, MHSAA says (Oct. 23)
• 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)