No word yet about fall sports

NILES — The wait continues.

While players, coaches and families were hoping to get good news from the Michigan High School Athletic Association and the governor’ office on the state of fall sports today, all they got was more information was coming soon.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at her COVID-19 update on Wednesday announced more testing sites throughout the state and a new program through Huntington Bank to help small-business owners.

At the end of her nearly 45-minute update, Whitmer announced that she was not announcing the reopening of gyms and bowling alleys, or that the state would be able open up additional fall sports.

Instead, she said that more news on that would be coming soon, leaving the MHSAA waiting and wondering when it will be able to allow boys soccer, volleyball, swimming and diving to begin competition. Those three sports have been practicing since the second week of August.

“The MHSAA has been in constant contact with the governor’s office seeking answers and direction for fall sports under ‘EO 160’ since that order was issued, expressing the urgency for these decisions on behalf of our member school students, staff and families,” said a statement released by MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl immediately after the conclusion of the update. “This direct communication will continue, and we will take Gov. Whitmer at her word today that decisions will be made and shared with everyone very soon. We will have no other comment or media availability until the governor addresses these athletic questions.”

After updates were given by the governor and others, and before she took questions, Whitmer addressed the question of when sports could continue to open and when other businesses like bowling alleys would be allowed to reopen.

“When it comes to battling COVID-19, we have to be on the same team,” Whitmer said. “We want people to understand that we are working around the clock and have been throughout the duration. To ensure that every determination is made with the best expertise, best protocols following the best science. That is what we continue to do and that is how we will continue to operate. It is also what has contributed to Michigan being in the position that we are relative to the rest of the country. We have to get this right.”

Whitmer said that the announcements she will be making in the coming days will be made in a way that will protect athletes and families, coaches and teachers, and our small-business owners as well.

While much of the message was positive about the potential of getting back to playing all fall sports, with the possible exception of football, it was not all good news for the Kalamazoo Region, which includes Berrien and Cass counties.

That region is seeing an uptick in cases.

“Especially in Region 6 and 8, we are seeing numbers in a concerning level right now,” Whitmer said. “Being very mindful of following the science, and continuing to do what we have done to get us in a strong position is going to be important to our long-term health and our long-term economic security. What is so important is that people need to continue to do what it takes to be safe. That means mask wearing. No one wants to engage additional things in our economy more than I. This has been a tough time for all of us. This has been a tough time for every single one of us. The more normalcy we can have, the better for all of us.”

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