MHSAA Current Status for 20-21 Sports

The MHSAA gives Holland Christian our onramp for sports for this unique 20-21 school year and MHSAA guidance is in complete compliance with the Governor’s office.  On July 31, EO-160 severely limited the ability to play the sport of football and forced football to be postponed on August 14 to the spring after specific clearance was unable to be given during those two weeks.  On August 20, aquatics, soccer and volleyball were instructed by the MHSAA to “stay the course” and remain outside for practices only.  On September 3, EO-176 gave the necessary clearance to reinstate football and allow aquatics, soccer & volleyball to go indoors and compete.  All sports have specific safety protocols in place in order for them to practice and compete.  On September 9, EO-180 clarified that football, soccer and volleyball athletes must wear facial coverings at all times because they cannot consistently maintain a distance of 6 feet, while cross country, golf and tennis athletes can make a choice.  The linked communication is a September 10th press-release from the MHSAA followed by a summary of how our different sports seasons and programs continue specifically addressing spectators and athletes.  As members of the MHSAA and the OK Conference, we must accept the rules put forth for all member schools to be in compliance with each other for competitions.  Both of these organizations also require enforcement of facial coverings for all spectators at interscholastic events.      

September 10 – MHSAA Guidance on Face Coverings

Fall Sports: 

Aquatics, Cross Country, Golf and Tennis have specific safety protocols in place.  These teams continue to move forward with practices and competitions as scheduled (with limitations on invitationals / multi-team events).  Athletes can choose to wear a mask while actively participating in these sports, but must wear a mask on the sidelines or while not actively participating because they can maintain a 6 foot distance.

Football, Soccer and Volleyball also have specific safety protocols in place.  These teams have adjusted schedules, but are moving forward with practices and competitions  (with limitations on invitationals / multi-team events).  Athletes must wear a mask at all times while participating in any capacity with these sports because they cannot maintain a 6 foot distance.

MHSAA fall post season tournament structures are still to be determined.  All HS football teams will qualify for the playoffs.

Winter Sports: 

Basketball and Aquatics must follow the all current safety protocols, but can begin participation in normal “out of season during the school year” activity including 4 player workouts.  They began using gyms/pools on September 9.  Basketball players must wear a mask while playing in any capacity.

Spring Sports: 

All spring sports are permitted 16 voluntary practice days (exceeding the 4-player rule), but still follow specific safety protocols between September 8 and October 31.  These dates are sanctioned practices with the MHSAA, which means students must have their pre-participation physical completed (www.hollandchristian.org/athletics/registration) and be a current student at Holland Christian.  HS coaches are contacting athletes who are registered for their sport with upcoming opportunities.  Normal “out of season during the school year” activity for spring sports begins again on November 1st.  If athletes cannot maintain a consistent 6 foot distance, they must wear masks.

Fall Spectators:

Each participant will be granted two individual spectators to watch them compete in person.  This applies to both indoor and outdoor events.  While our MI Region is still in phase 4 limiting gatherings to 10 indoor and 100 outdoor, the potential additional spectators are approved exceptions for MHSAA sporting events.  Whether indoor or outdoor, all spectators must wear a facial covering and distance from other spectators not in their immediate family.  We must not only follow these rules, but also be respectful of opponents specific instructions for their facility.  Following safety protocols is a significant piece in allowing our athletes to play.  Failure to follow all protocols may result in stoppage of play.

Non-Gated Events (Cross Country, Golf, Tennis & MS Soccer) – Each participant is allowed up to 2 individuals to attend and watch them compete.  Families can decide who these individuals are, but must stick to two people in attendance.  Spectators must not arrive early and only stay for their participant’s race, match or level of play so spectators for the next competition can attend in a similar fashion.  Spectators must spread out on the course, field, or courts at a distance of at least six feet from anyone not in their immediate family and may want to bring a chair to avoid sitting too close on bleachers to other spectators.  Masks must be worn at all times.

Gated Events (Aquatics, Football, HS Soccer & Volleyball) – Each participant is allowed 2 individuals to attend and watch them compete (The Holland Aquatic Center is currently not allowing any spectators).  Participants will be given 2 tickets that allow access to be at the event.  The pass will be shown to the ticket taker to record with the team roster.  More than likely, there will still be a $5 entrance fee.  Spectators must not arrive early and only stay for their participant’s event or level so spectators for the next competition can attend in a similar fashion.  In other words, please clear the gym if your participant is not participating.  Spectators must spread out on the bleachers at a distance of at least six feet from anyone not in their immediate family.  Masks must be worn at all times.  Due to the current restrictions put on attendance, Holland Christian passes are not being sold and all other passes will most likely not be accepted.

In addition to spectators, all coaches, officials, event staff and media are required to wear a mask at all times as well.  Vulnerable individuals should not attend.

Holland Christian plans to stream as many events as possible.  Please see the linked blog post for Holland Christian and OK Blue steaming options (www.hollandchristian.org/hc-live-streaming-options/).

Athletes:

Currently (EO-180), cross country runners, golfers, swimmers and tennis players may take off their mask during participation. (Even though up until September 3rd all athletes were given a choice to wear their mask while active or in an aerobic capacity.)  While on the sideline, athletes must wear their mask.  Athletes will either be screened at home before school or by their coach on non-school days.  Any athlete who becomes symptomatic at a practice or an event will be isolated, sent home and likely tested.  In the event of a positive case, Holland Christian will follow Ottawa County Health Department guidance.  Currently, close contact to a positive case is defined as less than 6 feet for more than 15 minutes up to 2 days before symptoms or a positive test.  Close contact may require quarantine.  Athletes “not in close contact” with a positive case will most likely be monitored for symptoms.

The MHSAA recognizes the importance of the athletic experience for students and is making every effort to maintain seasons when possible.  Their patience, transparency and avoidance of postponing seasons are examples of this.  Holland Christian views these athletic opportunities as a way to educate the whole student and seeks to do so in an environment that is safe as well.  These things are not always true in non-school sport programs that will certainly be available if school sports were not.  As much as athletics have never been risk free, the MHSAA is actively mitigating physical risks to the best of their ability, but considering the mental health risks of athletes as well.  Thank you for your support and partnership… especially now… as we still seek to influence our sports culture for Christ.  Please do all you can to stay flexible, positive and respectful at our opponents facilities in addition to our own as we move forward together.  While not every detail is known about how to fight the virus most effectively, hygiene, mask and distancing practices give us the best potential chance to move forward with school sports for our athletes.  We all have a role to play in mitigating the associated risks, but know God’s faithfulness and his future presence is with us as we move “through it” (Isaiah 43:2) together.  Go Maroons.