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Michigan high school football season reinstated, fall sports cleared by Whitmer

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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer allows for high school football to play in the fall. (WWMT/File)

High school football might begin regular-season games Sept. 18, the Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association announced Thursday.

The council reinstated the fall football schedule Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020, after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's executive order that lifted restrictions that previously did not allow the sport to be played.

“We are thankful for the opportunity for kids to get back on the field in all fall sports, and we appreciate Governor Whitmer providing that opportunity with Executive Order 176 ,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. “We share the governor’s priorities of putting health and safety first, and the COVID-19 guidance and protocols designed by the MHSAA at her request have led to the safe starts in all sports across the state.

With the reinstatement, the council directed football teams to cease all activity until Tuesday, Sept. 8, then practice two days in helmets and shoulder pads before adding full pads Sept. 10.

Games were set to begin Sept, 18, and teams would play six games beginning with their originally-scheduled week 4 contests.

All football teams in 11 and 8-player football would qualify for the playoffs during this fall’s shortened season, and then advance through their usual postseason progression with 8-Player Finals the weekend of Nov. 27-28 and 11-Player Finals the weekend of Dec. 4-5.

Whitmer’s executive order also allowed for an immediate start of competition boys soccer; Lower Peninsula girls swimming and diving, and girls volleyball on Wednesday, Sept. 9 for schools located in Regions 1-5 and 7 based on the MI Safe Start Plan. It also set spectator limits of two per participant for outdoor and indoor events in Phase 4 of the MI Safe Start Plan.

Statewide football, and competition in those regions for volleyball, soccer and swimming and diving, had been restricted as part of executive order 160, which ordered gyms and pools to remain closed and required social distancing in competition to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in areas under Phase 4 of the Safe Start plan. Schools in Regions 6 and 8 have been able to play volleyball, soccer and swim because those regions have been under fewer restrictions while in Phase 5 of the reopening process.

The MHSAA’s Council had authorized on Aug. 20 the start of competition in volleyball, soccer and swim statewide, pending the authorization of that activity in the specific regions by Whitmer’s office. The Council also on Aug 14. postponed the fall 2020 football season to spring 2021, but voted Sept. 3 to allow for a shortened season this fall.

Schools are not required to play any of those sports this fall, and may postpone until the spring. However, the MHSAA would conduct its postseason events in those four sports only for the fall 2020 season.