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MHSAA reinstates fall football, other high school sports in Michigan

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer lifts restrictions on organized sports in Michigan

A football on the sideline.
A football on the sideline. (2018 Brett Carlsen)

The Michigan High School Athletic Association has reinstated fall football and other high school sports in the state of Michigan following Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order lifting restrictions on organized sports.

MHSAA officials announced Thursday that the fall 2020 football season has been reinstated by its Representative Council.

The announcement came shortly after Whitmer ended restrictions that didn’t allow the sport to be played.

The executive order also allows boy’s soccer, girl’s swimming and diving and girl’s volleyball for the regions where it had previously been banned.

Spectators are limited to two per athlete for outdoor and indoor sports.

The MHSAA had authorized the start of volleyball, soccer and swimming statewide on Aug. 20, pending the authorization of that by Whitmer’s office. On Aug 14, the fall 2020 football season was postponed to spring 2021, but Thursday’s vote allows for a shortened season this fall.

Schools are not required to play any of those sports and may postpone until the spring. However, the MHSAA will conduct its postseason events in those four sports only for the fall 2020 season, officials said.

“We are thankful for the opportunity for kids to get back on the field in all fall sports, and we appreciate Gov. Whitmer providing that opportunity with Executive Order 176‚” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. “We share the governor’s priorities of putting health and safety first, and the COVID-19 guidance and protocols designed by the MHSAA at her request have led to the safe starts in all sports across the state.

“Thirty-three other states are currently participating in all fall sports, and the MHSAA and its member schools are committed to doing this as safely as possible. We are ready to again provide those experiences to students and communities that have hoped for a return of some normalcy. Given the challenges of online education in many school districts across the state, providing sports and a daily routine may be more important than ever in motivating students and providing a safe outlet for physical activity, competition and socialization.”

Football teams had been allowed to practice in helmets only during the traditional first week of practice, which began Aug. 10, and then during approved offseason “contact” days beginning Aug. 24. With the reinstatement of the fall season, teams must cease all activity until Tuesday (Sept. 8). They can then practice two days in helmets and shoulder pads before adding full pads Thursday (Sept. 10).

Teams can begin regular-season games Sept. 18, and will play six games, starting with their originally-scheduled Week 4 matchups. All football teams in 11- and eight-player football will qualify for the playoffs during the shortened season. They will then advance through their usual postseason progression with eight-player finals the weekend of Nov. 27-28 and 11-player finals the weekend of Dec. 4-5.

All other fall 2020 tournaments will be conducted as previously scheduled, the MHSAA announced.


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