Michigan high school winter sports to start on time with safety guidelines

Michigan high school sports like basketball, swimming and diving, hockey, wrestling, and gymnastics will start on time.

With fall sports in high school settings continuing with mostly success, the Michigan High School Athletic Association has confirmed winter sports will continue as planned, with precautions in place to protect against COVID-19.

A Thursday meeting between members of the Representative Council of the MHSAA approved guidelines that schools must follow if they plan on hosting winter sporting events.

Safety precautions include limits on teams in a single area, the number of spectators at events, wearing face coverings, and ensuring proper measures be taken for sports equipment.

As with fall sports, scrimmages between schools will be prohibited to limit the mixing of communities outside of official competitions. The number of teams at any competitions like gymnastics, competitive cheer, swimming and diving, and wrestling will be limited to four per event. Bowling and skiing competitions will be restricted to 72 competitors at one event.

Host sites must enforce spectator limits on a game-by-game basis, which includes two spectators per participant at all contests. Athletes must also wear face coverings during competitions in basketball, competitive cheer, ice hockey, and wrestling. They are not required for bowling, gymnastics, skiing, or swimming and diving. 

“The Council believes it is safer to begin Winter practices on time, and keep athletes in school programs where safety precautions are always in effect,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said, before adding “let’s be clear: Our statewide COVID-19 numbers have to get better. In order for our schools to continue playing sports this winter, and in order for fans to be there to cheer them on, we must continue working to slow down this virus.”

Michigan is currently experiencing a second wave of COVID-19 cases, along with rises in hospitalizations and deaths - numbers that have health officials concerned as residents enter flu season and begin spending more time indoors.

Almost 100 schools have reported a coronavirus outbreak, including 28 currently mitigating spread.