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MHSAA says 'now is the time' to allow winter sports season

Mark Uyl says science and data say it can be safe
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Posted at 8:28 PM, Jan 29, 2021

LANSING, Mich. — The MHSAA held a news conference on the continued ban on winter contact sports in the state.

The organization says COVID-19 data show it's time to allow winter sports to resume.

Mark Uyl speaks out on winter sports postponement

There's also concern about the mental health of student-athletes, especially since there's little evidence of athletics being superspreader events based on what happened in the fall and in other states in the winter, MHSAA said.

"I think the most important voices that really won the day yesterday were those of our athletes," said MHSAA Executive Director, Mark Uyl. "They're showing incredible leadership in showing an incredible civic duty."

Officials praised the communication and dialogue from Elizabeth Hertel, the new director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

MHSAA officials say they appreciate that there has now been dialogue ahead of time before decisions are made.

"We've had more communication in the past four days than in the past four months," they said.

Officials emphasized the importance for safety and understood restrictions when COVID-19 cases were rapidly surging in the fall, but not with the current, lower numbers.

State House and Senate committees held hearings Thursday morning in which student-athletes, coaches, parents and other members of the community advocated for winter sports to resume.

RELATED: Whitmer: 'Very possible' high school winter sports could resume in next coming days, weeks

The organization still plans to offer three sports seasons, despite the spring season quickly approaching.

Once they know when the winter season can begin, they'll be able to know when they'll finish.

MHSAA also acknowledged the frustration of student-athletes going out of state to play in area with fewer restrictions on high school sports.

"We have been naive to think that folks are going to stay in their basement, and they're not going to seek that activity," MHSSA said. "It's happening all the time."

They also say Michigan's activities would actually be safer than those in other states because of higher standards for safety.

All four winter contact sports are being considered as a group and would not be considered individually.

Watch the press conference: