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Michigan high school athletic council to 'phase in' competition for fall sports

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Posted at 3:34 PM, Jul 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-29 19:40:21-04

(WXYZ) — The Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association approved the next steps in return sports for member schools.

The MHSAA will adopt a plan to phase in competition for fall sports to deter the spread of COVID-19.

Lower risk sports, including Lower Peninsula girls golf, Lower Peninsula boys tennis and Upper Peninsula girls tennis, cross country and Lower Peninsula girls swimming & diving can begin practice on Aug. 12 and begin competition on traditional start dates of Aug. 19 and 21.

Moderate and high-risk sports – football, girls volleyball and boys soccer – may begin practice but not competition. Decisions about competition timelines for these three sports will be made by Aug. 20.

Practice for boys soccer and girls volleyball will begin on Aug. 12. Football will delay the start of practice with full player pads and equipment until Monday, Aug. 17. The week of Aug. 10 can include football practice sessions consisting of conditioning, physical training and skill work with no other player equipment except helmets.

The council also voted to cancel scrimmages in all fall sports for this school year and approved limitations on numbers of teams that can compete together at regular-season tournaments, invitationals and other multi-team events.

The council believed eliminating scrimmages emphasized the importance of keeping teams from mixing before the first date of competition, and the regular-season limitations may lessen opportunities for viral spread while still allowing meets to be conducted.

The MHSAA will release updated timelines for competition for football, girls volleyball and boys soccer by Aug. 20 dependent on how the spread of the virus is trending statewide.

The start of volleyball and swimming & diving practices are in part contingent on the reopening of indoor facilities. Those sports can begin their practices outdoors if not allowed to be indoors by Aug. 12.

“The Council, reflecting on the positive impact on their athletes this summer from taking part in offseason training, feels it’s of utmost importance to continue athletic activity moving forward,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said in a press release. “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. Our athletic directors and coaches can provide the safest-possible environment to return to sports, and this phased-in approach to competition will help schools continue building on progress already made.

“The Council chose to make these adjustments to help ensure our athletes have a safe regular season this fall. As we continue to solidify the regular season, we can then turn our attention to building a safe postseason for our athletes.”

Specific sport guidelines and the overview are available on the respective sport pages of the MHSAA Website, all linked from https://www.mhsaa.com/sports [link.edgepilot.com].

The council on July 17 approved a return-to-activity plan for the 2020-21 school year retaining the traditional calendar of Fall, Winter and Spring sports, but allowing for the possibility that Fall sports forced to halt activity during the next four months may conclude later in the school year.

“The easy way out would be to postpone all activity to next spring, and we are not taking the easy way out. But we will make wise decisions based on medical guidance,” Uyl said. “We will make these difficult decisions quickly and appropriately. If we don’t play this fall, it won’t be because we didn’t make every effort to do so.”

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Michigan, a timeline of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Southeast Michigan, and links to more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the WHO.

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