By Scott Nason
“The Game” ESPN 1400
The Representative Council of the MHSAA have approved an adjusted schedule to restart and conclude Fall Tournaments in football, girls volleyball and girls swimming & diving, and also to resume Winter sports after the three-week “pause” in activity ordered by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) scheduled to end Dec. 9. As shared Sunday evening, the MDHHS announced Nov. 15 a three-week pause to various activities including school sports, effective Nov. 18, in hopes of halting the state’s rising infections due to COVID-19. Effective Nov 15, 2020 all MHSAA sports activity was suspended. The only allowed coach-player contact and activities for all sports (fall, winter and spring) is virtual communication and meetings through at least Dec. 8 or until these new orders are amended.
The volleyball and swimming & diving tournaments have one week remaining, with MHSAA Finals for both previously scheduled for Nov. 21. The 11 and 8-Player Football Playoffs also are nearing their conclusions, with the 8-player postseason two games from completion and 11-player down to its final three rounds. Winter practices for all but boys basketball, bowling, skiing and wrestling had begun for high school teams.
If permitted by the MDHHS, practice would resume for all three Fall sports Dec. 9, with tournaments scheduled as follows:
▪ Volleyball: Quarterfinals in all four divisions would be played Tuesday, Dec. 15, with Semifinals played Dec. 17-18 and Finals on Saturday, Dec. 19. Those final two rounds would be played at Battle Creek’s Kellogg Arena, as previously scheduled.
▪ Swimming & Diving: All three Lower Peninsula Finals would be completed on Tuesday, Dec. 22 (diving) and Wednesday, Dec. 23 (swimming) , with three high school sites each hosting one meet. This allows a two-week practice window for all participating individuals that previously met and entered qualification times or advanced from Diving Regional sites.
▪ Football: 11-Player Regional Finals and 8-Player Semifinals would be played Tuesday, Dec. 15, and Wednesday Dec. 16; 11-Player Semifinals and 8-Player Finals would be played Dec. 21-22 at home sites, the 8-player championship games at Midland Community Stadium; 11- Player Finals will be played Monday, Dec. 28, and Tuesday Dec. 29 at Ford Field.
For Winter sports, the Council approved resuming practices on Dec. 9 if permitted by the MDHHS, with Winter competition to begin Jan. 4.
The MHSAA understands where COVID numbers were trending, and that’s why we have been supportive of the order to pause. But these Fall sports deserve closure, and this strategy provides the best opportunities without further interruptions to a normal course of training and competition. A very small percentage of our teams remain active in our Fall tournaments, depending on the sport, also limiting potential exposure to the virus across the state. Meanwhile, by waiting until January to begin Winter Mark Uyl, Executive Director competition, the Council is allowing our teams to continue activity but also restricting the mixing of communities to further promote reducing COVID spread.
The Council meets again on Dec. 4 for its annual Fall Meeting, and at that time will consider possible tournament adjustments necessary due to the shortened Winter competition season.
For more on local sports, including the Lake Superior State Lakers opening weekend, Soo Thunderbirds in action against Blind River, and regional and national sports, tune into “The Game”, on ESPN 1400 Monday night from 6-8 p.m. Guests include David McCaig Jr, host of “The Game Sports Show” in Soo, Ontario, LSSU hockey senior Ashton Calder, Butch Davis, from “Butch on Sports”, and E.J. Russell, from “The Hot Seat”. You can also catch the podcast of the show at “The Game”.