The Michigan High School Athletic Association and Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association have released updated schedules for this fall, allowing some sports in certain regions to compete this fall. The decisions come amid ongoing uncertainty regarding the global coronavirus pandemic and concerns over the safety of schools reopening this fall.
MHSAA is allowing girls swimming & diving, girls volleyball, and boys soccer in regions of the state where coronavirus cases are low to proceed with their planned competition schedules starting August 21st. So far, that list of schools cleared to begin competition tomorrow includes schools in Regions 6 and 8, which are the Northern region of Michigan, and the Upper Peninsula. The other 6 regions are cleared to continue practicing in outdoor settings until Governor Gretchen Whitmer alters the executive orders to allow use of indoor facilities, which likely won’t happen until cases in those more highly effected areas decrease.
Michigan high schools teams for girls volleyball, boys soccer, girls swimming & diving, cross country, girls golf, and boys tennis began back on August 12th. Girls golf and boys tennis, both low-risk sports, were able to begin competition on August 19th, while cross country is cleared to begin competition on August 21st. Football, a high-risk sport, has been officially postponed until spring 2021.
The MHSAA Representative Council is awaiting further guidance on volleyball, soccer, and swimming, all three of which are sports that are allowed to practice, but don’t yet have an idea when they’ll be allowed to compete in Regions 1-5, and 7. In response to this uncertainty, some schools, such as the Okemos schools, moved soccer, volleyball, and swimming to spring, where there is more certainty the athletes will be able to get a full season in.
For many Michigan high schools, the fact that they could only train outdoors would be limiting for many high schools. As a northern state with cold winters, most high schools’ pools are located indoors, and the outdoor pools that do exist aren’t usually equipped to stand up to the brisk Michigan winters.
MIAA has unanimously approved low and moderate risk sports to play this fall, while adhering to social distancing and proper disinfection practices. Football has been changed to what they’re calling a “floating season,” meaning the MIAA football season will be moved to the spring this year. Fall sports of golf, cross country, soccer, field hockey, gymnastics, volleyball, and swimming & diving will be able to begin September 18th.
For a while now, Massachusetts has allowed for a a split swimming season, meaning some schools run swimming as a fall sport, while others run it as a winter sport. Currently, the vast majority of Massachusetts school run swimming as a winter sport, so this update is only effecting the schools that run swimming in the fall.
The current coronavirus situations in both Michigan and Massachusetts are largely similar. In Michigan, total cases are up to 104,235 as of today, with 6,619 deaths. Michigan has “flattened the curve” so to speak, but has yet to begin decreasing the number of new cases, still averaging 700+ a day. In Michigan, new cases are still largely focused in the suburbs of Detroit, where a huge percentage of the state’s population resides. Massachusetts is up to 124,415 new cases, with 8,876 deaths. Massachusetts’ new case rate has also flattened, averaging approximately 350 new cases a day.