Some winter sports teams will be able to get their respective seasons going later this month, but a few others will have to wait until Feb. 1 at the earliest.
The Michigan High School Athletic Association announced Wednesday afternoon that its roster of non-contact winter sports will be able to begin practices on Saturday, Jan. 16, after announcements earlier Wednesday from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Bowling and boys swimming will be permitted to practice on Jan. 16 with competition starting on Jan. 22 for swimming while Jan. 25 for bowling, according to the MHSAA in a press release.
Basketball, wrestling, competitive cheer and hockey can only have non-contact practices starting Jan. 16, and competitions may start Feb. 1 — if nothing changes before then. The tournaments for those four sports will also be pushed back further.
“The MHSAA let us know that they would be sending us an updated tournament schedule which tells me the winter season will be extended,” said Ludington athletic director Randy Fountain. “For now, we get swim and bowling started and rework the other schedules.”
The MHSAA stated that it plans to announce the new dates for the tournaments in the four contact sports later this week.
Mason County Central athletic director and boys basketball varsity coach Tim Genson said he wasn’t surprised, and he plans to get what he can out of the non-contact practices he can conduct.
“I get to practice basketball. Basically, it’s a lot of time doing drills of fundamentals and workouts,” Genson said. “We’ll use pylons as positioning pieces. We’ll do shooting and ball-handling. We basically cannot do a competitive drill. We can’t do one-on-one, two-on-two… My concern, based on how these are laid out is that Feb. 1 is our first contest date. Right now, there is no window of competitive practice before Feb. 1.”
Genson said the schedules for MCC, like other schools around the state, will be reworked. Schools locally had games scheduled for Jan. 22, and some of those games may not be made up. It depends on what the new end-date to the regular season will be.
“As far as moving the schedule, we can’t do anything until we know what those dates are. You’re going to run into some funky things. This has already been pushed out,” he said.
He also expressed some worries about spring break, which cause some havoc not only with the potential of pushing back the winter tournament, but also the start to the spring seasons. He cited the potential for spring break trips that families have already planned for. Genson said the MHSAA should try to protect the spring seasons as much as possible.
“Whatever we do from this point on, we’re going to muddy up the spring season more,” he said. “Frankly, if one group of kids and seasons should held least harmless as possible is the spring because they got nothing last year, absolutely nothing.”
The MHSAA also announced that out-of-season training for spring sports teams and fall teams with non-contact activities may start on Jan. 16 but with just four players at a time.