Balls and Streich(s):
Like many of you, I have spent the last week wondering what type of impact the decision the MSHSL made regarding fall sports.
Individual fall sports like tennis, cross country, etc will continue on as scheduled. However, competitons have been reduced and an alternate schedule will be made. Also, opposed to your typical six-to-eight team meet, all meets are limited to three teams max. On the contrary, team sports like football and volleyball will flip to the spring, beginning March 15. This move brings spring sports to move their seasons to May 15 and ending anywhere between July 1 and July 15.
I am trying to wrap around the idea of how the MSHSL expects teams to have fields ready for football during a Minnesota spring. In March, we have a foot of snow on the ground, in April who knows what you are going to get weather wise. Your fields are going to be cold and hard, increasing concussions and injuries, or wet and sloppy. Your fields will be torn to complete shreds, and you expect them to be ready and playable again by August? Not so sure. I cannot bash the MSHSL for their decision, as they were in a lose-lose situation. With the move to spring, spring sports again gets the shaft.
Last spring, spring athletes and coaches had their seasons completely axed. Now, next year they are moving it back into the summer, possibly and most likely playing a condensed schedule. Granted, your weather may be more appropriate from May 15 through July, but what does this do to your summer programs? Your summer softball associations, your VFW and Legion baseball programs. For example, New Ulm Legion relies on revenue from the Jr. Upper Midwest and Upper Midwest VFW and Legion tournaments in late June. New Ulm often hosted with Essig, Searles, and occasionally Sleepy Eye, and they did not get to host those tournaments this summer and now with an extended spring sports schedule, it may be unlikely they host again next summer. I suppose you can look at this summer and see how many teams still had seasons from July 6 through early August, but who knows?
The MSHSL is allowing fall teams to host practices, but it will be interesting to see how students get or stay motivated knowing there will be no games. In addition, spring sports will also be given the green light to practice in fall also. What does this all mean for coaches and ther pay? With fall sports hosting practices in fall and then a normal season in spring, will they get paid for both? Likewise for spring coaches, if they host fall practices, will they be covered for those also? I suppose pay would be up to each district, but if there is no revenue coming in, will they fork the bill? They should, but will they? After all, coaches are not just “in-season”, they often set up different fundraisers, schedule open gyms, set up tournaments, speak with colleges about potential student-athletes, help student-athletes with life situations, all sorts of things in the “off-season” that many don’t see. Coaches do so many things behind the scenes that go unnoticed or underappreciated. Coaches can be the most influential people in these kids’ lives and these kids may need them more than ever during these times.
I pray we get winter sports, but right now, I cannot see them happening. Maybe by Jan. 1, but what do I know. Hopefully the MSHSL can come together and give a set date to help everybody out. Coaches, players, athletic directors, etc all need some positivity right now. Be sure to thank your ADs for all they do as their jobs are never easy and this is certainly an unprecedented situation we are all in. Be patient and try to remain as positive as you can for our student-athletes.