The Minnesota State High School League will hold a Board of Directors meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday. The hot topic is the eighth item listed under agenda item No. 9: Return to Participation.
Will the MSHSL allow fall sports to be played this year? If so, what will they look like?
We'll have the meeting staffed, so check back to PostBulletin.com/Sports throughout the day Tuesday for updates. Until then, three Post Bulletin sports reporters offer their best guesses as to what fall sports will look like.
PAT RUFF: To play or not to play — and when — are not winnable decisions for the MSHSL in the throws of COVID-19. There is an argument that team sports shouldn’t be attempted during a pandemic, one that it’s time to get back to “business as usual," and another asking for fall sports to be shifted to spring when a vaccine for COVID-19 might be available.
All of those takes have merit. All are also problematic.
The MSHSL isn’t likely to OK a shift of fall sports to spring. The disruption would be considerable, with too many athletes abandoning their normal spring sport in order to play what was missed in the fall. Spring also marks the start of club volleyball, soccer and basketball.
The argument that team sports should be abandoned during a pandemic, contrasted with getting back to “business as usual” for sanity’s sake, are both right and wrong. High school kids, coaches and officials gathering for sports being a bad idea now is easy to follow, with all of the close contact in team sports. Also easy to understand is that kids need outlets and being deprived of sports robs them of possibly their favorite high school experience.
Right or wrong (and it will be both), the MSHSL’s likely announcement on Tuesday will be that all fall sports are being allowed, with strict COVID-19 related guidelines in place.
Countless stops and starts by teams during the fall season will follow, with innumerable athletes and others contracting the virus due to all of that close contact.
Then, before the scheduled fall sports seasons are done, watch Gov. Tim Walz step in and put a stop to all of it.
ISAAC TROTTER: I don't even want to imagine a fall without high school football. But sadly, it doesn't feel like we're trending in the right direction.
There are a whole lot more questions than answers.
I mean, think about a scenario where a player tests positive on Wednesday. Two days before game day. Would the entire team have to be tested? Would all the test results come back in time to let that team play on Friday or would they be forced to forfeit? How long would a player have to sit out after testing positive? Would daily testing be required or would tests only occur if symptoms started to show up? Could there be a situation where a player is so desperate to play and help his team win that he doesn’t mention the fact that he has a slight headache or a little cough, and therefore, infects the rest of the team?
It’s just incredibly tough. I’d hate to see another season ripped away from athletes throughout the area. They already had to suffer not having a spring season in 2020.
I don’t think the MSHSL will cancel the fall season. But I do think we could see a modified 2020-21 schedule where football, soccer and volleyball are pushed to the spring and sports like tennis, golf, cross country and swimming remain in the fall. That could lead to a slightly modified winter season and then typical spring sports like baseball and softball could be pushed into the summer months.
The MSHSL needs to provide answers and guidelines. It also needs to do everything in its power to make it safe for these student-athletes to play. Taking the easy way out and just canceling everything would be devastating.
JASON FELDMAN: Social media was buzzing Saturday with the idea that Major League Baseball could be shut down this week. NFL players are opting out of their season on a daily basis. College conferences are canceling fall sports or pushing them to the spring. Every time a sports league has decided to start games or practices, it seems a COVID outbreak occurs.
The NHL, NBA and WNBA have put players in a bubble.
We can't put high school kids in a bubble, and taking away another sports season for kids who already lost their spring seasons would devastate them.
The solution will likely fall somewhere in between and will be similar to the path neighboring Wisconsin is taking. Lower-contact fall sports teams there, such as tennis, cross country and swimming, will begin practice as scheduled August 17. Football, volleyball and soccer will push back the start of practices until September 7.
We could well see a shortened regular season, and/or a reduction of the number of teams that make the playoffs.
If I were a betting man, I'd put Pat Ruff's next paycheck on the MSHSL developing a similar plan to Wisconsin's, if not an identical one. And there's no guarantee that when games get going, spectators will be allowed.
Twenty-four other states have pushed back the start of practice for some, if not all, fall sports. Six states, including California, Illinois and the District of Columbia, have moved some or all fall sports to the winter or spring. We'll likely have fall sports in Minnesota, though for safety's sake they won't resemble what we've had in the past.