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MSHSL reverses course, football and volleyball seasons to proceed this fall

Jacob Shames
Crookston Times
There will be high school football and volleyball in Minnesota this fall after all, after the MSHSL reversed course in a Monday meeting.

High school football and volleyball in Minnesota this fall are a go.

The Minnesota State High School League Board of Directors met virtually Monday morning with one item on the agenda: "Reconsider Placement of Fall Sports Seasons."

This meant that the MSHSL would revisit the decision it made at a previous meeting on Aug. 4, in which it decided that boys' and girls' soccer, girls' swimming and girls' tennis could proceed this fall, while football and volleyball would be moved to next spring.

Ultimately, the MSHSL decided to reverse course Monday, deciding to go ahead with football and volleyball this fall.

The Minnesota State High School League approved the return of football and volleyball to this fall in a meeting on Monday morning.

The board was first to decide on volleyball. After a half-hour discussion, it voted 14-4 to start the season on Sept. 28 with 10 days of preseason practice. The first date competition can take place is Oct. 8, and from there, the season will be 11 weeks, with a maximum of 14 competitions. There will be no multi-team tournaments, only dual matches.

Next up was football, which the MSHSL approved, after a discussion of over an hour, by a 15-3 vote. The football season will start Sept. 28 with a preseason practice portion, followed by a six-game season beginning Oct. 9. 

The season as a whole will last 10 weeks, with a postseason format still to be determined. The board is set to decide on one during its next meeting, which is scheduled to take place on Thursday, Oct. 1.

A large chunk of the football discussion was devoted to the aforementioned playoff format. Per Brian Mozey of the St. Cloud Times, some member schools were concerned about a six-game regular season taking away the chance for a true state tournament. "Localized" sectional or district tournaments replacing them were brought up as an alternative, as was a four or five-game season with an expanded playoffs.

The board then moved on to discussion of postseason competition for fall sports currently in season. For boys' and girls' soccer, section tournaments will begin the week of Oct. 12, with teams limited to two games per week. Quarterfinals for all sections will take place between Oct. 14 and 17, with semifinals and finals being played the week of Oct. 19. 

Postseason tournaments for fall sports including boys' soccer were also discussed at Monday's MSHSL board meeting.

The girls' swimming postseason will consist of a multi-site section meet the week of Oct. 19, with a maximum of four teams per section. Teams are limited to a maximum of 22 participants.

Girls' tennis will have section tournaments from between Oct. 5 and Oct. 17, with competition hosted by the higher seed on outdoor courts only. Teams will play no more than two matches per week.

State tournaments for the above sports are still yet to be determined.

Also discussed at Monday's meeting was the implementation of a document with procedures on returning to play for athletes who have previously tested positive for COVID-19.

Fans will not be allowed at volleyball games, as current COVID-19 guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health prohibit attendance for indoor events at school facilities. Outdoor events, including football, are limited to 250 total spectators.

It is still unclear how the MSHSL's ruling will affect winter sports seasons — when they can start, how long they will be, whether fans will be allowed, and if they'll even play at all. Those questions will addressed at the board's next meeting.

The MSHSL had previously sent out a survey to its member schools gauging interest in fall football and volleyball. 394 schools in total responded. Eighty percent of them wanted football to be played in the fall, as opposed to 20 percent in the spring. For volleyball, 76 percent wanted it this fall, with 24 percent wanting to stick with the spring season.

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