High School Sports Statewide Returns, Reduced Football Schedule
Just over 24 hours after Governor Gretchen Whitmer updated Michigan residents on a possible return to some normalcy with gyms and pools reopening, big news came for the high school sports ranks involving their fall programs.
The Michigan High School Athletic Association's Representative Council approved the 2020 football season can commence in the fall after it was previously announced that the sport would move to Spring 2021.
Competitions for the southern Lower Peninsula were still on hold with competitions in volleyball, boys soccer, and girls swimming and diving, while competitions in the Upper Peninsula and the norther Lower were allowed under Executive Order 160 in August. Whitmer's rescinding of EO-160 on Thursday, September 3rd with EO-176 now allows competitions to commence for the remainder of the state.
As it pertains to this year's football season, the normal nine-week schedule will be cut back to six weeks. All teams that plan on participating this fall in both 11-Man and 8-Man football will be postseason-eligible, extending the postseason for both formats by one week. The 8-Man State Finals will now take place Thanksgiving weekend (November 27-28) at the Superior Dome in Marquette. The 11-Man Finals will be the following weekend at Ford Field in Detroit (December 4-5). Game schedules would start with the school's planned Week 4 contest that was slated before the season was initially moved.
The MHSAA also reiterated that schools have the option to play volleyball, swimming, soccer or football in the spring, but will not hold their own postseason tournaments.
There will also be capacity restrictions during competitions that will continue under the MI Safe Start Plan, limiting the amount of people allowed into events. Priorities will involve student-athletes, coaches, school and game officials and trainers.
MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl was elated with Governor Whitmer's decision to allow play statewide in the sports that are considered moderate-to-high contact.
We are thankful for the opportunity for kids to get back on the field in all fall sports, and we appreciate Governor Whitmer providing that opportunity with Executive Order 176. 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.
As for us at 95.3 WBCK, we are working to finalize our regular season schedule to provide broadcasts once again this year to kick off our 2020-2021 football and basketball seasons. Practices resume for football just after Labor Day and the first game is slated for Friday, September 18th. Jim Hughes and I return for our sixth season in the booth and provide the call for what will be an outstanding season on the gridiron in the Cereal City.