Game on: Winter contact sports can start this week
Basketball, wrestling and cheer among four sports given green light
BIG RAPIDS - The good news for girls and boys basketball, hockey, wrestling and finally came on Thursday.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), said MHSAA member schools could begin full practice activities in the winter contact sports of girls and boys basketball, competitive cheer, ice hockey and wrestling on Monday, Feb. 8, with some precautions to continue limiting the spread of COVID-19.
Previously, the ban on contact had been extended to Feb. 22.
The MHSAA said competition in those four sports also will begin this week, with basketball and hockey able to play Feb. 8 and cheer and wrestling able to compete starting Feb. 12.
MHSAA executive director Mark Uyl, in his press conference on Thursday, thanked the "work and support" from Governor Whitmer and her staff and every one in her office, plus the MDHHS.
"We appreciate them for the information we gave them over the last 10 days and are pleased and grateful with the new order that takes effect on Monday so the winter kids can move forward."
Those four winter contact sports have been able to practice since Jan. 16, but only with non-contact activities. MHSAA Tournament dates for all four sports previously were rescheduled into late March and early April to accommodate a later start to the regular season, and those dates appear below.
The MHSAA pointed out all four Winter contact sports also must participate with some level of masking and/or rapid testing, also detailed sport-by-sport below.
All testing will be coordinated between schools and MDHHS or their local health departments.
"We wanted to give schools as much flexibility as possible in terms of scheduling," Uyl said. "Our kids in those contact sports have been in limbo and in a pause the last 2 ½ months. We have said consistently when we were ready to play we would play. So we're excited about those sports starting."
The breakdown by sport
Here's how each sport breaks down:
All participants must wear face coverings at all times - during all practices and non-game activities, and during games. Teams may play up to three games per week, Monday through Sunday.
First contest: Feb. 8; Districts: March 22, 24, 26; Regionals: March 29, 31; Quarterfinals: April 5; Semifinals: April 7; Finals: April 9.
Masking/testing: All participants must wear face coverings at all times - during all practices and non-game activities, and during games. Teams may play up to three games per week, Monday through Sunday. First contest: Feb. 8; Districts: March 23, 25, 27; Regionals: March 30, April 1; Quarterfinals: April 6; Semifinals: April 8; Finals: April 10.
For basketball and hockey, a testing requirement may allow participants to remove masks while in active participation if they test negative that day.
The same masking and testing requirements will be in place for all junior high/middle school teams wishing to participate in the four winter contact sports.
"The tournament dates we set in previous weeks will remain in place," Uyl said. "We're incredibly excited because for these four winter teams, it's been hard on kids and coaches."
Uyl noted rapid testing for wrestling is required the day of the meet. All participants must be tested negative.
"Wrestling has some very unique challenges when it came to COVID and keeping everybody as safe as possible," Uyl said. "With cheer, it's more of a performance sport. You're out there with teammates and teammates only."
As of now, spring sports can start on March 15 despite the obvious overlap with winter sports.
Uyl said there's a possibility the start date for spring sports might be later.
The MHSAA contributed to this report.