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MHSAA on right path in restarting sporting activities

The Michigan High School Athletic Association is doing things right in this unprecedented age of COVID-19.

The Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association — the MHSAA’s 19-member legislative body — on Wednesday approved the next steps in returning sports for member schools. The next step is a plan to phase in competition for fall sports in hopes of continuing to deter the spread of COVID-19.

Wednesday, the council said lower-risk sports — Lower Peninsula girls golf, Lower Peninsula boys tennis and Upper Peninsula girls tennis, cross country and Lower Peninsula girls swimming and diving — may begin practice on Aug. 12 and begin competition on their traditional start dates of Aug. 19 and 21.

But sports with moderate- and high-risk sports like football, girls volleyball and boys soccer may begin practice but not competition.

The MHSAA is a release Wednesday said decisions about competition timelines for those three sports will be made by Aug. 20.

Boys soccer and girls volleyball sports can start practice Aug. 12.

Football will delay the start of practice with full player pads and equipment until Aug. 17, the MHSAA release states, and the week of Aug. 10 may include football practice sessions consisting of conditioning, physical training and skill work with no other player equipment except helmets.

The MHSAA said this week of acclimatization is similar to allowed summer football activities that have been ongoing for schools since June.

The Representative Council voted to cancel scrimmages in all fall sports for this school year. It also approved limitations on numbers of teams that may compete together at regular-season tournaments, invitationals and other multi-team events.

The MHSAA release states: “The Council believed eliminating scrimmages emphasized the importance of keeping teams from mixing before the first date of competition, and the regular-season limitations may lessen opportunities for viral spread while still allowing meets to be conducted.

“The Council chose to make these adjustments to help ensure our athletes have a safe regular season this fall. As we continue to solidify the regular season, we can then turn our attention to building a safe postseason for our athletes.”

The MHSAA said it would release updated timelines for competition for football, girls volleyball and boys soccer by Aug. 20 dependent on how the spread of the virus is trending statewide.

We know young athletes and sports fans of all ages are anxious for the games to begin again. But with the potential for spread of the coronavirus, a slow, cautionary approach is best and we salute the MHSSA for doing just that.

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