(Photo: Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine)
Minnesota State High School League leadership brought some national perspective to the state of spring activities during a Thursday video conference call.
“Thirty state associations around the country look like we do,” associate director Bob Madison told the more than 200 call participants. “They are currently in suspended mode or postponement mode, while 21 state associations have said, ‘There is no spring season.’ ”
The tally of 51 includes the 50 states and the District of Columbia State Athletic Association.
Thursday marked almost four full weeks since Minnesota’s spring activities were suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The league remains hopeful about resuming the season while acknowledging the growing logistical challenges.
On Wednesday, the league received notification from University of Minnesota that “all facilities are closed for non-curricular use” in May and June. That would rule out hosting state tournament contests at Siebert Field, which has hosted Class 3A baseball quarterfinals and semifinals, or the Baseline Tennis Center for the boys' tennis tournament.
Spring sports are on hold in accordance with Gov. Tim Walz’s school closures until May 4. As for when the spring season could resume, Madison said, “If the governor were to tell us that schools can be used and accessed by students to participate in activities, and we got started on May 5, we could start participating, currently, in the area of May 15 or 16.”
For school leaders wondering when the governor will make a decision, league executive director Erich Martens offered this:
''We don’t have a timeline for when that is. We’re hopeful that it’s not going to be maybe as late as what we’ve seen in the past. Typically, it’s been a Wednesday before the end of a period when the announcement has been made. I know folks are craving something that they can hold onto and plan around. We’ll continue to ask for that declaration when we can get it.”
Martens expects the governor’s next decision to determine the fate of spring sports.
“It is unlikely, I would say, that we’re going to have something that’s going to come later than maybe a middle of May determination for reopening any doors,” Martens said. “If there is a declaration, and I don’t know that there is or isn’t one coming, my sense is that it would be for the remainder of the school year. We have to remain ready and responsive when or if we see what that information is.”
The last tournaments are currently scheduled to end on June 13. Martens said, “There has not been a lot of energy or support to extend” the spring season past July 1.
“It seems like there’s a number of indicators that would say that’s probably the end of a potential season,” Martens said.
Thursday's conference call was the second installment of the league’s L.E.A.D. Network, which stands for leadership, education, administration and development. The network plans to provide weekly outreach while all Minnesota schools remain closed.