MSHSL Approves Three Possible Start Dates For Winter Sports Amid Wait For Shutdown To End

The Minnesota State High School League approved three different potential start dates for the winter sports season in a meeting of the League’s board of directors on Thursday, though the actual start of the season remains contingent on the state ending its current shutdown of youth and high school sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The closest start date of Dec. 21 would coincide with the scheduled Dec. 18 conclusion of the current shutdown of youth and high school sports mandated by the state governor’s office in mid-November. Practice for winter sports under this start date would begin on the 21st with most sports beginning competitive play as early as Jan. 4.

If the state shutdown mandate was to be extended beyond Dec. 18, two additional schedule models were approved by the board of directors to compensate. One model offers a Jan. 4 starting date for practices, with the other setting Jan. 18 as the start of the winter sports season. In both cases, two weeks of practice would remain in place prior to the start of competition, with a two- or four-week adjustment to the number of weeks of competition allowed for each sport.

Each proposed schedule model was accompanied by a projection of impact on the spring sports calendar, which was kept relatively the same in all three schedules in hopes of retaining a full spring season after the 2020 spring sports season was cancelled in Minnesota at the onset of the coronavirus.

The full specifics of the calendar models remain labeled as “drafts”, according to writer John Millea, as the MSHSL awaits further information from state officials.

It is still unknown how much, if at all, a reduction in the number of weeks of competition would impact the number of contests for each winter sport. The number of contests has automatically been reduced to 70% of its regular number for the upcoming winter and spring seasons.

Another element that is still unknown within the drafted schedule plans is the presence of a state tournament for winter and spring sports. Among the listed parameters for the schedule plans, the League stated a desire to “protect options for postseason that go beyond sections”, but no vote was made during the meeting with discussions on the state formats still ongoing.

The MSHSL has set benchmarks of ending the winter sports season the week of Mar. 29, while concluding the spring season the week of Jun. 14.