Winter sports may start in January

TRI-CITY AREA — The fall high school sports season is still not over with yet and may be resumed in the weeks ahead.

So says the Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association which last week approved an adjusted schedule to restart and concluded Fall Tournaments in football, girls’ volleyball as well as swimming and diving after the three week “pause” in activity ordered by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is slated to end December 9.

The MDHHS announced November 15 a three-week pause to various activities including school sports, effective November 18, in hopes of halting the state’s rising infections due to COVID-19.

The volleyball and swimming and diving tournaments have one week remaining, with MHSAA finals for both previously scheduled for November 21. The 11- and 8-player football playoffs also are nearing their conclusions, with the 8-player postseason two weeks from completion and 11-player down to its final three rounds. Winter practices for all but boys’ basketball, bowling, skiing and wrestling had started for high school teams.

If allowed by MDHHS, practice for all three fall sports would resume December 9, with tournaments scheduled as follows:

Volleyball- Quarterfinals in all four divisions would be played Tuesday, December 15, with semifinals played December 17-18 and finals on Saturday, December 19. Those final two rounds would be played at Battle Creek’s Kellogg Arena as previously scheduled.

Swimming and Diving- all three Lower Peninsula finals would be conducted Tuesday, December 22 (diving) and Wednesday, December 23 (swimming) with three high schools each hosting one meet. This allows for a two-week practice window for all participating swimmers who previously entered qualifying times, and for divers who previously qualified at regional meets.

Football- 11-player regional finals and 8-player semifinals would be played Tuesday, December 15 and Wednesday, December 16; 11-player semifinals and 8-Player finals would be played December 21-22. The 8-player championship games are scheduled for Midland Community Stadium, while the 11-player finals will be played Monday, December 28 and Tuesday, December 29 at Ford Field.

For winter sports, the Council approved resuming practices on December 9 if allowed by the MDHHS, with competition to begin January 4.

“We understand where COVID numbers were trending and that is why we have been supportive of the order to pause,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. “But these fall sports deserve closure and this strategy provides the best opportunities without further interruptions to a normal course of training and competition,” he noted.

“A very small percentage of our teams remain active in our fall tournaments, also limiting potential exposure to the virus across the state. Meanwhile, by waiting until January to begin winter 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 December 4 and at that time will consider possible tournament adjustments necessary due to the shortened winter competition

Kevin Kissane has been covering high school sports for the Tri-City Times since 1985. When not standing on a field or court with his camera and notepad, he enjoys golf, travel and family. Kevin is a 1980 graduate of Capac High School, and is also a grad of St. Clair Community College and earned a degree in journalism from Central Michigan University.