By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The Michigan High School Athletic Association has canceled the remainder of the 2019-20 Winter and Spring sports seasons, in compliance with the Thursday “state of disaster” directive by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer closing school buildings and moving education online for the remainder of the school year to help decrease the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
This will be the first school year to not see MHSAA Finals played in multiple sports since 1942-43, when World War II led to the elimination of Finals in most sports.
The MHSAA on March 12 suspended its girls and boys basketball, girls gymnastics, boys ice hockey and boys swimming & diving tournaments amid COVID-19 concerns. All activity in all sports was halted March 13. Spring sports to that point had begun practice, but not competition.
The MHSAA’s Representative Council approved during its Winter Meeting on March 27 a series of concepts for completing the Winter tournaments and an abbreviated Spring season, contingent on the lifting of a statewide quarantine. The closure of school buildings into June made those possibilities void.
The MHSAA’s Executive Committee, comprised of officers of the larger Council, affirmed the decision today to cancel the remainder of this school year’s activities.
“We are heartbroken to not be able to provide these opportunities for Michigan’s student-athletes, and especially seniors. We continue to hear from dozens asking us to hold out hope. But safety always must come first, and Governor Whitmer is making courageous decisions to safeguard the people of our state,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. “We understand as much as anyone how much school sports mean to athletes and their communities. We had ideas and hopes for finishing Winter and Spring and helping bring some sort of normalcy after this long break. But this is the correct decision, and we will play our part in bringing schools and communities together again when the time is right.
“For now, we cannot state strongly enough that all students, staffs and others follow the guidelines established to slow the spread of this virus – we all must do our part.”
Because the five Winter sports were not able to conclude with Finals, no champions will be awarded in those sports for 2019-20. However, championships won at earlier rounds of those tournaments (District or Regional) will continue to stand.
The MHSAA will in coming weeks provide guidelines and other information pertinent to this unusual offseason as attention is turned to preparing for Fall 2020.
The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.4 million spectators each year.