St. Clair High School's football team take the field. Photo courtesy St. Clair High School Athletics.
St. Clair High School's football team take the field. Photo courtesy St. Clair High School Athletics.

Here’s where high school sports are resuming in Michigan and where it’s still deemed unsafe.

MICHIGAN — The Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) authorized the start of competition in girls volleyball, boys soccer and girls swimming & diving in regions of Michigan authorized for each activity by Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders on Thursday, although most of lower Michigan’s athletic competitions will be placed on hold due to the coronavirus.

Schools in the northern Lower Peninsula and Upper Peninsula, designated as Regions 6 and 8, respectively, by executive order, are allowed to begin competition on Friday, August 21 as originally scheduled.

Schools in all other regions (1-5, and 7), which includes all of the lower half of the Lower Peninsula, will not be allowed to compete pending further executive orders, although student athletes may continue outdoor practice. A PDF map of each region designated as part of Governor Whitmer’s Safe Start Plan can be seen here.

“The MHSAA and Representative Council are committed to following all current and future Executive Orders and safety precautions. However, we need more answers before we can give all of our member schools the go-ahead to play each other again, and the majority of our schools are in regions that are not yet allowed to take part in volleyball, soccer and swim,” The MHSAA said in a press release.

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Last week, the MHSAA Representative Council also voted to postpone the Fall 2020 football season to Spring 2021 due to COVID-19 concerns.

The organization’s staff was authorized by executive order to create all guidance for a return of school sports, and worked over the last eight weeks to fulfill this mandate while complying with all of Governor Whitmer’s executive orders.

While the Council was prepared to approve competition for all schools and all regions, it was unable to do so because of questions remaining on which activities are still not allowed.

“Our Council has made clear it is ready to offer students these opportunities, pending approval from Governor Whitmer that we may do so,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. “We have been told that within a week, future guidance will address athletic issues that exist in current executive orders. We are awaiting that guidance.

Here’s a breakdown of students in which sports and areas will “play ball” this fall and what the crowds might look like:

Indoor volleyball: Regions 6 and 8 (which includes the entire Upper Peninsula and the upper part of the Lower Peninsula dubbed the Traverse City region) may have indoor volleyball for a total of 250 people or 25 percent of a facility’s capacity, whichever is smallest.

Swimming: Indoor pools in Regions 6 and 8 are limited to 25 percent of established bather capacity for that pool.

Soccer: Outdoor competition in Regions 6 and 8 may have 500 people or 25 percent of capacity, whichever is smallest.

For all three sports, the total number of people allowed to be present includes all participants, officials and school and game personnel, media and fans.

Practices to Begin Soon for Football, Spring Sports

Also on Thursday, the Council approved 16 contact days for football and all spring sports to be used for voluntary practices among students from the same school only.

Football may schedule their contact days from Aug. 24 through October 31.

Spring sports including baseball, softball, girls soccer, track & field, girls and boys lacrosse, Upper Peninsula girls golf, Lower Peninsula girls tennis and Upper Peninsula boys tennis may schedule their 16 contact days for voluntary practices from Sept. 8-Oct. 31, if the school permits and all safety protocols are followed.

READ MORE: Michigan Moves High School Football to Spring Due to Coronavirus

Football and all spring sports then may conduct skill work with coaches and up to four players at a time beginning Nov. 1 until the first day of official practice this upcoming spring. Coaches also may work with an unlimited number of players on general conditioning during that time.

An athletic calendar including the new spring football schedule will be released later this fall upon Council approval at a later meeting.

Teams and schools also have the option to opt out of their fall seasons, and are urged to contact the MHSAA if they wish to do so.