High School Sports in the Fall…For Now
The monthly turn of the calendar puts us in July 2020 and the preparations for the upcoming school year continue after schools shut down in March.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer went into further detail with the "Return to School Roadmap" on June 30th, putting more emphasis on the safety guidelines in getting children back in to school in late August/ early September.
On July 1st, the Michigan High School Athletic Association gave an update on their plans for the upcoming fall sports schedule. MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl stated in the release that Governor Whitmer has entrusted the non-profit organization with numerous tasks, including the creation of plans, procedures and protocols for educational athletics before high school sports returns. Uyl stated -
We appreciate the confidence and responsibility that has been given to the association, and we are already deeply engaged in doing our part to bring back athletics safely.
The current training guidelines allowed by the MHSAA allow for training outdoors except for Regions 6 and 8 (Northern Lower Peninsula and Upper Peninsula), who are allowed to have training indoors for gatherings no more than 50 people. Outdoor gatherings are allowed for 250 people in those regions as well. Those regions are currently in Stage 5 of the six-stage Michigan Safe Start Plan as of June 10th. Statewide, athletic training is still requiring physical distancing (no contact) when possible.
In Uyl's statement, he mentions that from the Roadmap that in-person learning and extra-curricular activities are much safer when the entire state is in Stage 5 or 6. Uyl made this point -
(W)e must continue to do the right things NOW in all parts of our state to reach and remain in Phases 5/6 for August and beyond.
Since the school closure in mid-March, the MHSAA has been working on contingency plans for the upcoming school year. With the Roadmap as a guide, the MHSAA has three plans that will be the focus for the next several weeks heading closer to official practices starting in August -
- The MHSAA's current plan is to play all scheduled fall sports in the fall.
- The MHSAA will do everything within their control to safely have all three high school sports seasons in 2020-21, even if conditions change that would require creativity to provide each season.
- Contingency planning that reflects the plan to play fall sports and offer all three seasons to be played with creativity. One possible contingency would be a swap of fall and spring sports based on concerns for indoor sports, with differing views on football.
Members of the MHSAA will be meeting with fall sports coaches statewide virtually and the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAAA) on a sport-by-sport basis for updates, ideas and feedback.
With Uyl's statement, the signs are positive for a return for high school students to the football field, the soccer pitch, the golf course and the gymnasium.