MSHSL approves reduction of winter sports schedule
The remainder of the Minnesota State High School League’s activities calendar came into view during the Board of Directors Meeting that was held in a virtual format om Oct. 1.
After a presentation by the League’s Return to Participation Task Force, the Board of Directors approved a maximized winter activities season that trims 30 percent of the contest dates.
By keeping the length of seasons generally intact, member schools will have the flexibility for rescheduling if contests are postponed because of COVID-19 related outbreaks or other interruptions. As part of the approval, members schools will have the opportunity to use the final two weeks of the season to make up contests if the postponements were weather or COVID related. Scrimmages and preseason jamborees are not allowed under the approved decision.
Waconia High School Activities Director Jill Johnson, a former board member and chair of the task force, said the approved plan also reduces the overlap in seasons, which benefits the start of spring seasons, thus, providing a full experience in these sports while minimizing exposure risks. "Extensive work was done within the Return to Participation Task Force, which provided the board with much needed information to make a decision moving forward in our calendar year," said MSHSL Board of Directors President Blaine Novak of New York Mills. "The board decision today provides a natural progression to opening up our activities in the safest manner possible, while providing the best opportunity for participation for all of our student participants."
The following are the start dates for winter activities:
Nov. 9 - Dance
Nov. 23 - Boys Hockey, Boys Basketball
Nov. 30 - Adapted Floor Hockey, Alpine Skiing and Nordic Skiing, Wrestling, Boys Swimming and Diving, Girls Hockey
Dec. 7 - Gymnastics, Girls Basketball
The Return to Participation Task Force, created in late July, favored a longer winter season, in part, because it believes a longer season allows athletes to stay together longer in a safety-controlled environment.
On August 4, the Board of Directors approved a recommendation by the task force that followed guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health to shorten the fall activities season that trimmed 20 percent from the length of the season and 30 percent of the contests played. At that time, volleyball and football were moved to the spring in an effort minimize risks of exposure in those activities.
On Sept. 21, in a special meeting called by Novak, the Board of Directors returned volleyball and football to the fall season following the same formula for length of season and number of contests as the other fall activities.
In the spring, most activities will be pushed forward one week from their traditional start dates. Softball and track and field will be pushed forward two weeks while lacrosse will stay the same.
"The thoughtful approach of our Board in considering ways to extend opportunities and continuing to maintain their focus on the safety of all who participate in MSHSL activities and athletics is evident in their decision-making," said League Executive Director Erich Martens.
In other board action:
•Approved the League Staff’s proposed plans for section tournament play in Girls Tennis, Boys and Girls Soccer, Boys and Girls Cross Country and Girls Swimming and Diving.
•Voted against a motion for post-section play for fall activities.
•Approved updated streaming language to the Media Policy Manual.