MHSAA spokesman: 'This fall has been a success so far'

Baldwin basketball and other winter sports should take place as scheduled, according to the MHSAA. (Star file photo)

Baldwin basketball and other winter sports should take place as scheduled, according to the MHSAA. (Star file photo)

BIG RAPIDS -- This year has been unlike any prep-sports season anyone in the United States has ever had to experience.

Coaches, families and -- perhaps most importantly -- student-athletes have had their worlds turned upside down, where they remain to this day.

Throughout the uncertain times caused by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic back in the early spring, the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) has been working overtime to ensure the safe and responsible return of local sports.

When considering all the alterations made to safety protocol and the overall structure of the fall sports season, MHSAA spokesperson Geoff Kimmerly has a positive outlook on the current state of affairs.

"This fall has been a success so far," Kimmerly said. "We anticipated there would be teams that wouldn't be able to play at times because of quarantining, so that hasn't caught us off guard."

With an agreed upon plan set in motion prior to the beginning of the fall season, Kimmerly said he and his colleagues are happy with the way it has played out so far.

" ... at least 96 percentof our teams have been eligible (not in quarantine) to play every week," Kimmerly said. "We're through three sets of Finals and into the tournament for soccer, and so far schools, officials and families have all worked together to make this a go."

Kimmerly added that there will not be a live postseason selection show this year, as has been customary in previous seasons to announce playoff pairings.

Instead, postseason matchups will be announced and made available on the MHSAA website on Sunday.

The MHSAA spokesperson said there are some concerns regarding the number of available officials going into the postseason for some sports, mainly football.

"Our official numbers across fall sports are down about 20 percent," Kimmerly said. "So we haven't had widespread shortages, but games have moved to different days to make everything work."

Even though he said COVID-19 might account for some of the dip in overall official numbers, he added that it would be untrue to pin it all on the ongoing pandemic.

"I'm sure COVID fears are part of our reduced numbers, but it's impossible to pin everything on COVID," Kimmerly said. "Our basketball numbers are just about where they were last year, and if COVID was a reason to not officiate you'd expect it across all sports."

Kimmerly said he doesn't foresee many issues in assigning referees to the upcoming football postseason, and expects schools to reach out and have positions filled in due course.

Looking ahead to the next few months, Kimmerly said the winter athletic season will begin as it's currently scheduled.

"Right now everything for winter is scheduled to begin on time," Kimmerly said.