What is the future of fall high school sports in Michigan?

Posted at 6:26 AM, Aug 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-13 06:26:15-04

(WXYZ) — School starts for some K-12 students in Michigan in less than three weeks, but sports practices are already underway. That includes school districts that opted to start the year with remote-only learning.

Bloomfield Hills High School senior Samantha Green is in the middle of the uncertainty around high school sports. Her poms team cheers on the football and basketball teams, but this year, the poms team is supposed to also compete competitively.

"I'm just hoping that things get better so we can have competitions later in the season," Green said.

There's uncertainty around most sports this fall. Perhaps none more than football, a sport with no social distancing. High school football teams are already practicing while at the same time college football is being canceled.

Geoff Kimmerly with the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) said high school football is local and that makes it safer.

"We're really traveling not just mostly in-state, but really regionally within the state. So it really limits the mixing of teams," he said.

Even so, the contact can't be avoided, and that's why football is a moderate to high-risk sport. Same goes for soccer and volleyball. MHSAA has safety guidelines for all sports, but if it's not safe, Kimmerly said they will push those sports to next spring to adjust the schedule.

Other sports like tennis, golf and cross-country are outside and easier to distance. Cross country may have staggered starts, but MHSAA considers these sports lower-risk.

Next are indoor competitions like swimming and diving. They're waiting to be allowed to practice inside. But if schools are going virtual, why are sports an option? Kimmerly said sports groups are small.

"Which is a little bit different than being in a large classroom or school setting, actually gives schools a chance to see how smaller groups can work," he said.

A University of Wisconsin study said 2/3 of high school athletes are experiencing depression and anxiety over canceled sports.

Kimmerly said the mental health aspect of sports is something they are aware of and will factor into the ultimate decision about fall sports.

That decision is supposed to come on Aug. 20.

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