Push Pause on High School Sports, Titles in Three Sports Remain
The Fall 2020 High School Sports season almost came to completion in the Michigan High School Athletic Association in the coming weeks, but the latest emergency order from the Michigan government has put a hold on the postseason for three sports.
Following the announcement from Governor Gretchen Whitmer Sunday that would included the stoppage of amateur sports in Michigan, the Michigan High School Athletic Association shortly released a statement that the fall postseason tournaments for Girls Swimming and Diving, Girls Volleyball and Football would be suspended until the executive order is concluded after its three-week timetable. The order goes into place on Wednesday, November 18th and ends on Wednesday, December 8th.
On Monday, November 16th, MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl met virtually with the media to answer some questions that were not a part of the release. Uyl stated that the association's Representative Council will meet on Wednesday, November 18th, to determine the remaining schedules for the three sports. The plan is to complete their postseasons and championships by the end of 2020, according to Uyl.
Girls Swimming and Diving championships were scheduled for November 20th and 21st at Hudsonville, Grand Rapids Northview and Lake Orion high schools for Divisions 1, 2 and 3, respectively.
The Girls Volleyball postseason was slated for the State Quarterfinals on Tuesday, November 17th, followed by the Semifinals and Finals at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek from November 19th to the 21st. The Girls Volleyball State Quarterfinals could have played due to the executive order going into place the following day. Uyl stated that shutting down the MHSAA postseason immediately Sunday was the best option and having the Tuesday quarterfinals would have been been considered "bad optics and irresponsible".
Finally, the Football postseason had a few more weeks remaining following a shortened six-week regular season and an expanded postseason. The 8-Man schools remaining were in the State Semifinal stage this upcoming week with the Final the following week at Midland High School November 28th with both divisions in action. The 11-Man postseason would have held their Regional Finals this week, followed by the State Semifinals and the Finals for the eight divisions at Ford Field in Detroit on December 4th and 5th. Uyl said that even though the finals won't be held until a later date, representatives with Ford Field have remained "flexible" with the MHSAA in holding the finals there.
MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl stated during Monday's press conference that the executive order to shut down high schools to virtual learning was "not a surprise". Uyl also expressed that this shutdown due to COVID-19 and how it is being handled will be different from when the Winter season was ended early in March 2020 and Spring sports were eliminated.
Winter sports practices will be allowed to return December 9th after the order is lifted. Currently, coaches and student-athletes can hold virtual communications and meetings as high schools have been placed in virtual learning under the order. The Representative Council will also discuss when Winter sports competitions will be slated to begin with the initial outlook of games taking place after January 1, 2021. The repositioning of the Winter sports postseasons will also be delayed with dates to be determined later.
Uyl also mentioned that if and when sports returns, spectators may be limited once again to two tickets per athlete or may not have them at all. He emphasized that the return to athletics and competition, the focus in "on the experience for student-athletes".