Fall high school sports to begin as normal in Michigan, with COVID-19 backup plans

MHSAA schools to begin fall sports seasons as traditionally scheduled

Football (Brett Carlsen, 2018 Getty Images)

DETROIT – Fall high school sports in Michigan are set to begin as normal, but there will be contingency plans in place for possible coronavirus (COVID-19) interruptions.

Members of the Michigan High School Athletic Association discussed ideas for playing sports beginning in August and will meet again July 29 to continue that discussion.

High school football practices are currently scheduled to begin Aug. 10. Other fall sports are set to begin practice Aug. 12.

Coronavirus risk chartHow different sports, activities are ranked in terms of COVID-19 exposure risk

While the plan to begin fall sports as scheduled is moving forward, if the situation requires due to COVID-19, the seasons could be delayed.

The next step in the progression would be for lower-risk fall sports to be completed while high-risk sports would be postponed until later in the school year, officials said.

If fall sports have to be suspended, they’ll be rescheduled using a reconfigured calendar that could include winter sports starting in November and fall and spring seasons extending into July 2021, according to the MHSAA.

The association also considered swapping traditional fall and spring sports seasons but determined that wasn’t a feasible plan.

MOREHere’s how 25 sports have been divided into high, moderate, low COVID-19 risk categories

Football, girls volleyball, girls swimming and diving and boys soccer are considered moderate- or high-risk fall sports because they include athletes in close contact or are played indoors. They were considered the impetus for potentially switching all fall sports to spring, but traditional spring sports -- girls soccer and girls and boys lacrosse -- carry similar risk, negating the value of making that full season switch, MHSAA officials said.

Officials didn’t consider moving only the low-risk sports to the fall.

Plans are still reliant on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s MI Safe Start Plan. Currently, two regions are in phase five, which allow for limited indoor activity, while the rest are in phase four and disallow hosting indoor training, practice or competition.

“Our student-athletes just want to play, and we’ve gone far too long without them playing,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. “But doing so safely, of course, remains the priority. Our plan moving forward is Fall in the Fall, starting on time. We’re excited to continue moving forward to bring back sports safely. It’s important for keeping students in our schools and keeping students in our sports programs.”

The MHSAA staff is building COVID-related policies for all fall sports and will make those guidelines and precautions available to member schools as the season approaches, officials said. Those policies will follow up what was presented to schools for summer offseason training, which began June 1 across the state.

About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.