Closures affecting Michigan winter sports

Ryan Caldwell '21, Photographer

Infographic made by Ryan Caldwell ’21.

In football, the risk of head injuries has loomed large over the sport for decades. The NFL constantly looks into how they can advance helmet technology, and make the game safer for players. Now imagine not just one sport, but all of them, having a serious health concern that has no fix, and has changed the sports world forever. This is the Covid-19 effect. While most professional sports are playing, with some restrictions, our Michigan high school sports have yet to see progress in continuing fall sports, and starting winter sports.

With Governor Gretchen Whitmer temporarily semi-closing the state, as well as some others around the country, it has caused the MHSAA to revisit start dates for winter sports and resume dates for fall sports tournaments. While public safety is the first priority for the government through these shutdowns, there has been no correlation between the MHSAA’s plans and Gov. Whitmer’s actions. There hasn’t been much recognition of the MHSAA by Whitmer since the extension she made until Dec. 20. According to Click on Detroit, her main concerns she addressed in her latest press conference were about the vaccine, and other treatments and health facts about Covid-19 in Michigan, as well as economic plans and reasoning for the extension.

While I believe all of these things are extremely important and need to be addressed, I think that there are other things that are being unaddressed such as the resume of high school sports. A common misconception by the public is that the governor is to blame for this, as most of the responsibility is put on the shoulders of the MHSAA. While they can’t make anything happen without the governor’s permission, they are the ones responsible for coming up with proposals for her to review. We saw a lack of leadership this summer when it took way too long for them to make a decision about fall sports, and it resulted in a shortened season. While now, they have done better to work on a start date for winter sports, I fear a similar situation happening as did in the fall. For boys basketball, January 15 is the date MHSAA set for the start with a shortened season, almost three games a week, which is a lot for these teams to play considering normally there is one or two.

It isn’t fair for all these important individuals in the decision-making process for the MHSAA and the governor’s office to be so nonchalant with their communication about our sports. We end up just helplessly waiting around while watching last year of high school sports dwindle away. We have seen many other states start winter high school sports to a certain extent. That is a slap in the face as we can’t even go into a public gym to play recreationally as our high school gyms are closed until late January.

The bottom line remains–we just want to play sports with our friends again. Professional sports have been played since the summer, and yes, I know we aren’t professional athletes. But the high school sports community shouldn’t suffer because of a lack of respect. These are some of the best times of our lives as many of us won’t continue our athletic journey, and these moments are being robbed from us.