By Teddy Rydquist
Leader Staff Writer
Announced via an 11 a.m. press release last Friday, the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) will begin fall sports for the 2020-21 academic year as scheduled, with contingency plans in place due to fears about the possible spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Locally, Oxford High School has eight athletic programs scheduled to compete in the Oakland Activities Association (OAA) this fall, four apiece for boys and girls.
The largest revenue-producer of these eight, the football program, will begin their first season under new head coach Zach Line at Wildcat Stadium against the Romeo Bulldogs on Friday, August 28 at 7 p.m.
Coached by Ryan Ruzziconi, the boys’ tennis program, the reigning OAA Blue champions, will be the first Wildcat program to compete this fall, squaring off with the Ferndale Eagles on the road on Saturday, August 15.
The MHSAA Representative Council, the association’s 19-member legislative body, met virtually on Wednesday, July 15 and, while the Council considered a plan that would swap traditional fall and spring sports, they ultimately decided to proceed like normal.
The Council will meet again on Wednesday, July 29 to discuss any needed changes to the plan.
This means football will begin official practices on Monday, August 10, with all other fall sports able to begin practicing two days later, Wednesday, August 12.
If, because of some drastic changes, all fall sports are required to be suspended, they will be rescheduled using a reconfigured calendar that would see winter sports begin in November and fall and spring sports take place after the conclusion of the winter season and extend as late as July 2021.
“Our student-athletes just want to play, and we’ve gone far too long without them playing,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said in the release.
“But doing so safely, of course, remains the priority. Our plan moving forward is fall in the fall, starting on time. We’re excited to continue moving forward to bring back sports safely. It’s important for keeping students in our schools and keeping students in our sports programs.
“We remain grateful to the Governor for the opportunity to build the schedule and policies for returning sports to schools. We will continue to support her directives and those of the state and local health departments as we work to create the safest environment for all involved in our activities.”
Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) has implemented a six-phase plan to re-open Michigan. Regions in Phase 4 are not allowed to host indoor training, practice, or competition, while Phase 5 allows for limited indoor activity.
By Teddy Rydquist