For fans of high school sports, the news coming from Tuesday’s Minnesota State High School League Board of Director’s meeting was mixed as the MSHSL voted to allow for boys and girls soccer, boys and girls cross country, girls tennis and girls swimming and diving to be competed as scheduled this fall. At the same time, however, the board voted to move football and volleyball seasons to the spring.
The board also approved modifying all of the schedules for the fall sports, including limiting the number of teams competing in an event, the total number of events scheduled, plus the number of competitions per week. For cross country, there will be a maximum of three teams allowed to compete at the same time. For tennis and swimming/diving, competitions will be limited to only two teams competing.
All of the fall sports will also see a reduction in the number of weeks competing by 20%. They will also see a 30% reduction in the number of competitions to be held. Currently, each sport (minus cross country) was allowed a maximum of 16 regular season games, which will be reduced down to 11. Finally, teams will be limited to just one or two competitions per week.
Much more debate was held for volleyball and football before ultimately deciding to move them to a spring season, which will begin sometime in mid-March (after the conclusion of the traditional winter sports season) and run until mid-May. Citing the greater risk of spreading COVID-19, the board opted to give the two most popular fall sports time in hopes the pandemic will be diminished by then.
Volleyball is considered a higher-risk sport due to it being conducted indoors. Football’s extreme and continuous contact between players makes it a high-risk sport for spreading the virus.
Even with the delay, both sports are also subject to the same reduction in competitions, with volleyball dropping down to 12 matches and football being reduced to six games.
One of the biggest obstacles facing the moving of those two sports was it would create a scheduling conflict with multi-sport athletes who also play in a spring sport. The board voted to reduce that conflict by creating what some call a “four season” calendar. While the beginning and ending dates for fall and winter sports will remain unchanged, traditional spring sports will be moved to begin in mid-May and run through early July.
What is still unknown, however, is how postseason competition will be held for each of the sports. While soccer can maintain their normal bracketed tournaments, section and state competition for tennis, cross country and swimming and diving are held with all teams/individuals competing at the same time or location. The board, however, chose to leave those decisions for another day.