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MHSAA allows competition in some fall sports in two regions, waits on clarification to start competition in other areas

Game on: Should Michigan high schools add esports?
Posted at 3:22 PM, Aug 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-20 15:22:10-04

(WXYZ) — The Michigan High School Athletic Association has approved the start of competition in girls volleyball, boys soccer, and girls swimming and diving in the northern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula.

The MHSAA says they had been prepared to approve competition in those sports in all regions of the state. However, outside of Regions 6 and 8 they were unable to do so because of questions about whether the activities are not allowed.

“Our Council has made clear it is ready to offer students these opportunities, pending approval from Governor Whitmer that we may do so,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said in a news release. “We have been told that within a week, future guidance will address athletic issues that exist in current executive orders. We are awaiting that guidance. The MHSAA and Representative Council are committed to following all current and future Executive Orders and safety precautions. However, we need more answers before we can give all of our member schools the go-ahead to play each other again, and the majority of our schools are in regions that are not yet allowed to take part in volleyball, soccer and swim.”

Schools in the regions where competition is being allowed will begin holding them on Friday, August 21. Schools in the other regions may continue outdoor practice, pending further executive orders from Governor Whitmer.

Teams began outdoor practice in volleyball, soccer, swimming & diving, cross country, golf and tennis on Aug. 12. Lower Peninsula girls golf and boys tennis, and Upper Peninsula girls tennis began competition Aug. 19, with cross country competition beginning Aug. 21. Football practice began Aug. 10, and on Aug. 14 the Representative Council voted to postpone the Fall 2020 football season to Spring 2021, also due to COVID-19 concerns.

The MHSAA also laid out the following guidelines moving forward:

For attendance purposes, schools in Regions 6 and 8 may have for indoor volleyball a total of 250 people or 25 percent of a facility’s capacity, whichever is smallest. Indoor pools in Regions 6 and 8 are limited to 25 percent of established bather capacity for that pool. Outdoor competition in Regions 6 and 8 may have 500 people or 25 percent of capacity, whichever is smallest. For all three sports, the total numbers of people allowed to be present include all participants, officials and school and game personnel, media and fans.

The Council also approved out-of-season coaching adjustments allowing football and spring sports coaches more contact with their athletes in advance of the 2021 season.

To provide additional offseason activity for sports that have had their full seasons canceled or moved, the Council approved 16 contact days for football and all spring sports to be used for voluntary practices among students from the same school only. Football may schedule their contact days from Aug. 24 through Oct 31. Spring sports – baseball, softball, girls soccer, track & field, girls and boys lacrosse, boys golf, Upper Peninsula girls golf, and Lower Peninsula girls tennis and Upper Peninsula boys tennis – may schedule their 16 contact days for voluntary practices from Sept. 8-Oct. 31, if the school permits and all safety protocols are followed.

Football and all spring sports then may conduct skill work with coaches and up to four players at a time beginning Nov. 1 until the first day of official practice this upcoming spring. Coaches also may work with an unlimited number of players on general conditioning during that time.

A calendar for the inclusion of football into Spring 2021 will be released later this fall, upon Council approval at a later meeting.

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