MHSAA waits to clear football, soccer, volleyball games
LANSING (AP) — The Michigan High School Athletic Association said Wednesday that competition can begin Aug. 19 and 21 for lower-risk sports like golf, tennis and cross country, but it held off on allowing the start of football, volleyball and soccer games during the coronavirus pandemic.
The group said it will make decisions about competition timelines for the latter three sports by Aug. 20, dependent on how the spread of COVID-19 is trending. Athletes in all sports but football can start practice on Aug. 12, while football practices with full player pads and equipment will be delayed a week until Aug. 17.
The MHSAA’s representative council voted to cancel scrimmages in all fall sports and limited the number of teams that can compete in regular-season tournaments, invitationals and other multi-team events.
Girls volleyball and girls swimming and diving are contingent on whether Gov. Gretchen Whitmer lifts a prohibition on indoor sports facilities. Practices can begin outdoors if possible.
It was not immediately clear how high school sports may be affected by the governor’s order that participants in much of the state — those regions in phase four of her economic reopening plan — keep at least 6 feet apart “at all times” during such activities. MHSAA officials said they had been keeping Whitmer’s office updated and noted that under her separate road map for opening schools, athletics are allowed in both phases four and five.
Phasing in competition is designed to deter the spread of the virus, the MHSAA said. The number of specators will be limited in accordance with the governor’s orders.
Executive director Mark Uyl said offseason training was a positive for athletes this summer and it is “of utmost importance to continue athletic activity moving forward. If we take a month off, our students will find opportunities to compete through non-school entities that may not be as focused on safety.”
He said the association will make “wise decisions based on medical guidance” and the “easy way out” would have been to postpone sports until next spring.
“If we don’t play this fall, it won’t be because we didn’t make every effort to do so,” Uyl said.