MHSAA reverses decision on football

NILES — Football is back.

The Michigan High School Athletic Association announced Thursday afternoon that football would be played this fall after all.

The MHSAA also announced that soccer could begin competition immediately, while swimming and diving can begin on Monday and volleyball on Wednesday.

The announcement came following Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order 176 lifted restrictions such as the opening of gyms and pools in the remaining areas of the state that had remained close.

The governor did, however, recommend that contact sports not be allowed to compete.

“We are thankful for the opportunity for kids to get back on the field in all fall sports, and we appreciate Gov. Whitmer providing that opportunity with Executive Order 176,” said MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl. “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. Given the challenges of online education in many school districts across the state, providing sports and a daily routine may be more important than ever in motivating students and providing a safe outlet for physical activity, competition and socialization.”

A limit of two spectators per participant has been placed for outdoor and indoor events for those regions in Phase 4 of the MI Safe Start Plan.

Football practice will begin on Tuesday, according to the MHSAA. Originally, fall practice began on Aug. 10 in just helmets. On Tuesday, practice will resume in helmets and shoulder pads until Sept. 10, when full pads can be worn and contact drills can begin.

The 2020 season will begin Sept. 18 and will be a six-game season, beginning with teams’ originally-scheduled Week 4 opponent. All teams in both 11- and eight-man football will qualify for the postseason.

The playoffs follow the usual format with the state finals set for Dec. 4-5 at Ford Field in Detroit.

All schools do not have to participate in those sports this fall and may postpone them until the spring. However, the MHSAA will conduct postseason tournaments in those four sports.

This is a developing story. Read more in Saturday’s newspaper and go to leaderpub.com for updates.

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