While moving forward with plans to resume high school sports in August, the Minnesota State High School League said Thursday that it’s possible that not all sports will be offered.
The disclosure came during the league’s weekly L.E.A.D. meeting, a virtual informational discussion between high school athletic directors and league administrators. A question was asked if the league was considering an all-or-nothing approach toward the fall athletic season as the coronavirus pandemic lingers.
Executive Director Erich Martens told the group he believes at least some sports will resume in the fall but that “it’s less likely [sports] will be all-or-nothing, if there is school. Depending on risk level, I believe we could have a differentiated approach.”
Martens said the league is basing its approach on the Minnesota Department of Health’s guidelines for youth sports and social distancing, which divides sports into low-, medium- and high-risk categories.
“Those in the low-risk category are sports we might be doing,” he said. “Those in the high-risk, maybe only practicing and training.”
Fall sports in the low-risk category include cross-country running, singles tennis, individual swimming and diving and clay target shooting.
Volleyball, soccer, doubles tennis and swimming relays fall into the medium-risk category, while football is considered a high-risk sport.
Before any sport will be approved and can begin training, however, it must hit benchmarks set by the health department and the league.
“Right now, some schools have begun training in pods [small groups], meeting social distancing guidelines,” Martens said. “Our hope is that they continue to make progress and meet all of the steps along the way. If the danger does not increase, we’ll take the next step.”
A decision on whether schools reopen this fall is expected to be made in late July, with districts being asked to draw up three scenarios for learning. Martens said that leaves time for the league to further analyze its strategies for the fall.
“I do believe with the time we have in front of us, it will be possible to formulate strategies and see what prototypes look like depending on risk,” he said.