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Fall sports go-ahead: Michigan High School Athletic Association leaves autumn schedule nearly untouched, but with some caveats

Westwood’s Chad Pohlman catches a touchdown pass from quarterback Taylor Dellangelo in the fourth quarter of the Patriots’ MHSAA Division 6 playoff game against Menominee played in Ishpeming on Nov. 2. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

By The Associated Press

and Mining Journal

Sports Staff

EAST LANSING — Fall sports at Michigan high schools will start on time, officials said Friday, although the schedule could change if coronavirus trends get worse.

Football practices can start Aug. 10, followed by other fall sports two days later, the Michigan High School Athletic Association said.

Those are same expected dates for those sports in a regular non-coronavirus year.

The MHSAA said it considered switching fall and spring sports to limit close contact between athletes but dropped the idea after noting that soccer and lacrosse would carry similar risk if moved to fall.

If a fall sport is suspended, the season could resume later in the school year, the MHSAA said.

A suspension is more likely with a high-risk, high-contact sports such as football, rather than one with less risk, such as cross country.

“Our student-athletes just want to play, and we’ve gone far too long without them playing,” MHSAA executive director Mark Uyl said.

“But doing so safely, of course, remains the priority.

“Our plan moving forward is fall in the fall, starting on time.”

The MHSAA’s 19-member council, which met virtually with its staff on Wednesday, will discuss the topic again on July 29.

Even if games are played, attendance could be greatly restricted.

The MHSAA earlier this week announced a way for schools to get equipment to post live games on the internet.

“Revenue sharing from viewer subscriptions can help to offset losses in ticket sales, concessions and more due to COVID-19,” said John Johnson, director of broadcast services.

The MHSAA noted that two regions — the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula — have progressed further in Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s reopening plan than the rest of the state.

They are the only places where indoor events in some form could be currently held.