MSHSL Board approves winter sports calendar, start date still reliant upon Gov. Walz
If Executive Order 20-99 is not extended beyond Dec. 18, high schools may begin practice on Dec. 21 and competition on Jan. 4
BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. — The Minnesota State High School League Board of Directors approved a winter sports calendar that will begin Dec. 21, but the true start date for high school sports in the state still comes down to Gov. Tim Walz.
The approved calendar is dependent upon the governor not extending executive order 20-99 which included a pause on all youth sports until Dec. 18. All eyes are on that date and the governor for when high school sports may resume.
If the executive order expires as scheduled, high schools may hold practices on the weeks of Dec. 21 and Dec. 28 and can begin competition on Jan. 4. The final date for winter competition will be Apr. 3.
Two other calendar models were also approved to allow for the possibility of the governor extending the executive order. If the order is extended, the start date for practices would be Jan. 4 or Jan. 18.
The new calendars maintain the decision from earlier this fall to hold 70% of the standard allowable contests with a limit of two contests per week. The limit will be expanded to three contests per week in the final two weeks of the regular season to allow for makeup contests.
There was some concern among members of the board about starting activities prior to the holiday break. They feared that potential spread of COVID-19 among athletes could exacerbate the risk of spread at large family holiday gatherings sure to take place across the state.
Also, a number of school districts across the state have already decided not to conduct activities until after the new year. Those schools would be starting the season behind everybody else.
The board concluded, however, that it would start the seasons as soon as the governor allows. They cited concern that if there are not school-sponsored activities right away, other organizations would swoop in and offer competitive opportunities in the meantime.
All three calendar models feature the same proposed dates for section tournaments and state tournaments. Those dates are not locked and have some room for flexibility. No official plans for tournaments have been finalized.
The approved calendars include holding section tournaments for boys and girls hockey and boys and girls basketball simultaneously. In the plan, section tournaments in all four sports would take place the week of Mar. 22 with state tournaments the week of Mar. 29.
Those dates are not finalized, however, and the proposed schedule allows flexibility for tournaments to begin a week earlier or conclude a week later.
There was concern from the board as to whether it is feasible or even possible to hold all four sports simultaneously. They speculated that it is likely they would find a way to split them up.
The section tournaments for boys swimming and diving, nordic ski, and alpine ski are planned for the week of Mar. 8, with state competition on the week of Mar. 15. Section competition for wrestling would be the week of Mar. 8 and the week kof Mar. 15. Gymnastics section tournaments are planned for the week of May 15 with state tournaments planned for the week of May 22.