By Teddy Rydquist
Leader Staff Writer
With the current order set to expire at the end of January, allowing full practice to begin February 1 and competitions three days later, the Michigan Department Health of Human Services (MDHHS) and Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced another delay to winter contact sports on Friday, January 22.
The new order requires boys’ and girls’ basketball, competitive cheerleading, hockey, and wrestling to remain “non-contact” through Sunday, February 21, pushing the start of their seasons back by roughly another three weeks.
For Oxford High School, boys’ basketball is coached by Steve Laidlaw, girls’ basketball by Rachel Bryer, competitive cheerleading by Alanna Weber and Kelly Westbrook, hockey by Derek Billis, and wrestling by Ross Wingert.
Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) Executive Director Mark Uyl issued a statement the same day the decision came down, one that seemed to express frustration and a lack of communication from the powers that be.
“We found out about this decision at 9:30 a.m. like everyone else, and we will address it as quickly as possible after taking the weekend to collect more information,” he began.
“We did not anticipate this delay in winter contact practices and competition, and today’s announcement has created many new questions.
“Obviously, this is disappointing to thousands of athletes who have been training with their teams over the last week and watching teams in other states around Michigan play for the last two months.”
Appearing on Bill Simonson’s “The Huge Show” radio program shortly after issuing his statement, Uyl expounded on how disheartening this decision is.
“We have been given no metrics, no data while we’ve been under this current pause,” he said, via MLive’s Josh VanDyke.
“We have gotten no data in terms of what has to change in order for activity to begin.
“We have been ready to start winter sports as far back as November. This is now two months where we have not been given numbers in terms of whether it is based on cases or positive test rates, etc. We haven’t been given any idea of what needs to happen in order for us to be able to play, so I’m not sure how we can continue to take the responsibility and the blame for decisions that we have no input, no vote, and no opportunity to voice our opinions about.
“Just like any other walk of society right now in this pandemic, we have to follow the government orders that continually get updated.”
Uyl phrased it well in his statement, “Today’s announcement has created many new questions.”
Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin, the three bordering states, are all currently enjoying winter athletic competition, Michigan is the negative outlier.
In the meantime, student-athletes in the three non-contact winter sports, bowling, skiing, and boys’ swimming and diving, can move forward with their schedules as planned.
By Teddy Rydquist