MHSAA releases update on winter sports; contact sports can’t begin games until Feb. 1

EAST LANSING – Three more Michigan High School Athletic Association non-contact Winter sports will be allowed to restart practice Saturday (Jan. 16) per the updated epidemic order announced today by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), while four Winter contact sports may begin indoor practices Saturday with non-contact activities.

Girls gymnastics, girls and boys bowling, and girls and boys swimming & diving, as “non-contact” sports, may also begin competition before the end of this month – swimming & diving Jan. 22 and gymnastics and bowling Jan. 25. Masks will be required of all participants except when they are actively participating in gymnastics and swimming & diving. Spectators will be capped at 100 persons in school gyms or 250 in stadiums and arenas, per MDHHS orders.

Basketball, competitive cheer, ice hockey and wrestling are considered “contact” sports and may begin non-contact practices Jan. 16, with their first competitions scheduled for Feb. 1. Because of the later start to competition schedules in those sports, the MHSAA will adjust its tournament dates for those four to conclude on later dates than what is currently scheduled – those dates will be announced later this week.

Of course, local school districts have the authority to change the rules. In the fall, the Ann Arbor School Board delayed the start of the fall sports season by a week.

Girls and boys skiing, as an outdoor non-contact sport, was allowed to begin in December.

“We are glad to have three more sports join skiing in returning to full activity, but we understand the disappointment and frustration on the part of our athletes and coaches whose sports are not yet able to restart completely,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. “We will continue to adjust schedules to provide all of our winter teams as substantial an experience this season as possible, as part of our greater plan this school year to play all three seasons to conclusion.

“We have shown with our remaining Fall sports this month that our schools can participate safely, and we’re confident teams will continue to take all the appropriate precautions as we jump back into indoor Winter activities.”

Additionally, spring sports teams and fall teams not participating in the MDHHS rapid testing pilot program may begin four-player workouts and resume conditioning Jan. 16, but only with non-contact activities. Fall teams finishing their seasons in girls volleyball, Lower Peninsula girls swimming & diving and football have been able to do so by taking part in the MDHHS rapid testing pilot program for COVID-19; volleyball and swimming & diving will conclude with Finals this weekend, while football will finish Jan. 22-23 with 11-Player Finals.

The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.4 million spectators each year.

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