Hartford sports practices continue, but season still in limbo
Well, as they often say, the tides of history and the change in seasons are often impossible to predict. Well, that can be said about high school athletics in the state of Michigan since last spring. Student-athletes have been put through the absolute ringer of emotions, from the cancelation of seasons last spring, to the thrill of being able to play sports in the fall, to the disappointment of winter sports being postponed multiple times by new restrictions.
Practices started last week, and hope was renewed that the season would start in short order. However, despite promising new figures about the spread of COVID-19 statewide, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) continues its ban on contact sports for the foreseeable future, basically putting the kibosh on any competition through Feb. 21 at the earliest.
This comes as fall sports, including football, girls swimming and diving and volleyball, just finished off their championship seasons in recent weeks, thanks to an initiative by the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) and MDHHS. This initiative required student-athletes, coaches and other team personnel to receive rapid tests through the week to participate in competition. The testing program utilized BinaxNOW antigen tests that produced results in around 15 minutes.
Despite the success of the pilot program, for now, it appears winter sports will be in limbo for another extended period of time. In a statement released by the MHSAA, they state, “We are unable to provide specific plans yet as we are still evaluating the best options for delivering a memorable experience for 60,000 athletes involved in winter contact sports.”
The statement continues, “We will continue asking questions and advocating for all of our schools and athletes as we work toward building our next plans for seasons in basketball, competitive cheer, ice hockey and wrestling.” They finish by saying that the organization will be ready with specific sport timelines as soon as the MDHHS clears contact sports to begin full activity.
The goal has always been for the MHSAA to do whatever means possible to have three seasons, and play them to completion. That has been the mission since the start of the official school year. But, at this point, you really have to question if this will be feasibly possible, unless the winter sports season gets extended deeper into the spring and spring sports begin later than currently docketed.
The issue with delaying sports further would mean finishing the spring sports season in the early part of the summer, which is a time when families have been planning family activities and vacations around the end of the school year. However, with the pandemic still in full swing, and likely to persist well into this year, it is conceivable that a later finish to the sports year is feasible.
Only time will tell what will happen with winter and spring sports. For the time being, no more rescheduled dates will be mentioned in this column until a more solid decision is set in stone. All I can say is stay tuned to this column, and hopefully, we will have some sports results to post, eventually.
As always, GO INDIANS!