The Michigan High School Athletic Association announced Friday the 2020-21 winter sports season will begin on time, as the Representative Council approved guidelines teams must follow during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sport-specific guidelines for each sport will be released next week, but will address competition limits, spectators and the wearing of face coverings. The guidelines will also address equipment and facilities unique to each sport.
“The Council believes it is safer to begin winter practices on time, and keep athletes in school programs where safety precautions are always in effect,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said in a statement. “With the vastly different circumstances faced by schools in different regions all over the state, an on-time start still allows schools to decide when they feel most comfortable beginning activity – and allows all of them to slowly ramp up their frequency of activity and numbers of spectators attending competitions.
“But let’s be clear: Our statewide COVID-19 numbers have to get better. In order for our schools to continue playing sports this winter, and in order for fans to be there to cheer them on, we must continue working to slow down this virus.”
The number of teams at regular-season competitions, like the fall, will be limited to four at competitive cheer, gymnastics, swimming & diving and wrestling events. Bowling and skiing competitions will be restricted to a maximum of 72 competitors at one event.
According to Michigan Department of Health and Human Services requirements, face coverings must be worn by athletes practicing and competing in basketball, competitive cheer, ice hockey and wrestling.
They are not required for athletes practicing and competing in bowling, gymnastics, skiing and swimming & diving, which all allow for appropriate social distancing – but face coverings are required for those athletes when not involved in active participation.
Girls gymnastics teams are permitted to start practices Monday. Hockey teams will start practices Nov. 2, while girls basketball and competitive cheer teams will start practicing Nov. 9. Boys basketball, bowling, skiing and wrestling teams are permitted to return Nov. 16, while boys swim and dive teams are permitted to practice starting Nov. 23.
Girls gymnastics Oct. 26 Hockey teams are permitted to start practicing Nov. 2. Girls basketball, competitive cheer Nov. 9 Boys basketball, bowling, skiing, wrestling Nov. 16, Boys swim and dive Nov. 23
Contact reporter Colin Gay at firstname.lastname@example.org or 248-330-6710. Follow him on Twitter @ColinGay17. Send game results and stats to Liv-Sports@hometownlife.com.