THEY’RE BACK!! MSHSL Approves Fall Return For Football, Volleyball; Seasons To Start Sep. 28

After initially determining in early August that football and volleyball would be moved to a March-May 2021 timetable due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Minnesota State High School League’s board of directors approved a reversal of the decision on Monday with the announcement that the sports will begin competition in early October after a brief preseason.

Both sports will begin official preseason practices on Sep. 28 before beginning competition the following week, though both sports are still permitted to continue ongoing current practices. Volleyball matches will begin on Oct. 8 in an 11-week season that will feature 14 dual competitions and no in-season tournaments.

Football will have its first games the weekend of Oct. 9-10 to begin a six-game regular season. Two weeks are slated for the postseason to follow within a format that will be determined at the next MSHSL Board of Directors meeting on Oct. 1.

Plans for fall adapted sports were also determined by the MSHSL board at the meeting. Both cognitively impaired and physically impaired adapted soccer teams will be allowed to conduct eight practice sessions from Sep. 21 through Oct. 23 with no competitions.

Attendance for volleyball matches currently remains closed to outside spectators due to Minnesota Department of Health guidelines prohibiting outside visitors inside school buildings. The same guidelines also currently entail that football game attendance will be limited to a maximum of 250 spectators.

The two sports had previously been moved to a March 15-May 15, 2021 “4th season” by the MSHSL in its last board meeting on Aug. 4, though they had been permitted to have a practice window during the fall. Reevaluation of the decision was considered last week following both assessment of current fall sports competing, a survey of schools around the state on the timing of the seasons for both sports, and the Big Ten’s decision to reverse an earlier decision on postponing its college football season to 2021.

In a survey of 394 schools, 76% of the responding schools wanted to see a fall volleyball season as opposed to 24% in the spring, while 80% wanted to see football played in the fall.

In addition to postseason plans for football and volleyball, plans for the structure of the winter sports season will be discussed at the next MSHSL board meeting on Oct. 1.