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MHSAA suspends fall sports tournaments, start of winter sports

For the second time this year, the Michigan High School Athletic Association suspended championship tournaments because of an emergency order to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The start of high school winter sports was also suspended, the MHSAA said.

The MHSAA’s decision was announced Sunday evening based on an executive order from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to contain the spread of the virus. Sunday’s announcement came eight months after the MHSAA suspended winter sports tournaments and canceled the spring sports season.

The order lasts three weeks, but the MHSAA gave no timeline for the return of winter sports, or whether fall sports tournaments will be held.

The decision comes at a time when the state is reeling from a rise in positive cases. Michigan announced its worst seven-day stretch of the pandemic since March, as 44,019 people were newly diagnosed and 416 died. The exponential growth of cases is nearly four times higher than the peak of the virus surge in April, and hospitals say they are filling up with COVID-19 patients.

“We understand the need for action, and we will explore all options to complete our Fall tournaments when restrictions are lifted,” said MHSAA executive director Mark Uyl. “We will assess everything over the next three weeks relative to Fall and Winter sports and come up with a plan that keeps us connected to our goal, for months, of having three seasons that are played to their conclusions.”

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Sunday in-person classes at high schools and colleges statewide will be suspended for three weeks. Eat-in dining at bars and restaurants is also suspended for three weeks under the order. Those orders take effect Wednesday.

“This is the worst public health emergency our nation has faced in over a century,” Whitmer said. “And our response has got to reflect the same level of urgency. Our response is strongest if we are unified and all in this together.”

Professional and college sports may continue under the order, keeping Michigan Tech hockey and the rest of the WCHA on track for a Nov. 21 start, when MTU visits Lake Superior State.

Both MHSAA decisions suspending championship tournaments affected Calumet High School, whose volleyball team was scheduled for a Division 3 state quarterfinal Tuesday against Beaverton.

In March, the Copper Kings hockey team’s season ended on the eve of their state semifinal game against Detroit Country Day after the MHSAA suspended winter sports tournaments.

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