DETROIT – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has suggested swapping the fall and spring seasons for high school sports, moving close-contact sports like football to the spring while socially distanced sports like golf, tennis and track could move to the fall.
Whitmer floated the idea Tuesday, calling on the Michigan High School Athletic Association to consider it. MHSAA officials said that’s just one of a number of contingency plans on the table.
“It’s really important for people to know we want three seasons, if at all possible,” said Geoff Kimmerly, MHSAA’s media and content coordinator. “We don’t want another school year to completely cancel a season like we did last year. Our people in our office are working to have all three seasons.”
Kimmerly said the MHSAA is relying on several sources to help come up with ideas and plans that put students’ health and safety first.
“All decisions we’ve made have followed the governor’s decisions and her data and guidance from her health officials,” Kimmerly said. “We’re also working with the National Federation of State High School Associations.”
Kimmerly said there are 750 high schools and more than 200,000 student-athletes statewide. Some have already started conditioning workouts outside, such as the West Bloomfield High School football team.
West Bloomfield’s coach, Ron Bellamy, said his team is following all guidelines set by the MHSAA because his coaches and players hope to play in the fall. He said the high school experience and college recruiting are key factors in wanting to have a 2020 season.
“We want people to know we will do everything we can to have three seasons,” Kimmerly said. “(The only) contingency (isn’t just) flipping seasons. If we start and there’s an outbreak, we will figure out a way to finish it or have a different spring with multiple seasons. There are so many concepts out there.”
He said the plan is to have four or five plans and go from there. That way, they’re able to pivot at a moment’s notice.
A decision about fall sports is expected within the next three weeks.
“We have already engaged many of our high school principals, ADs and football coaches, and I stand with them to state that the association should not flip fall and spring sports,” Detroit Public Schools Community District Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said. “Football should be played this fall. We believe the association will eventually agree with our position.”