MSHSL approves projected calendars, will open winter sports once state allows

Youth sports are currently not allowed due to state restrictions, but the league will be ready to roll once guidelines allow.

Bemidji High School's Grant DeClusin (6) celebrates with the Lumberjacks after scoring his first career goal during a game on Feb. 13 against Thief River Falls at the Bemidji Community Arena. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

BROOKLYN CENTER -- High school sports came a step closer to returning on Thursday when the Minnesota State High School League approved a return to participation plan at its virtual board of directors meeting.

The league unanimously approved a plan to resume sports once the state’s current shutdown ends. As of now, restrictrictions will be lifted Saturday, Dec. 19, which would mean starting practices on Monday, Dec. 21. In that case, games could commence as early as Jan. 4.

High school athletics are not allowed under the current restrictions, an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, and only the governor’s office may lift those restrictions. The MSHSL cannot green light participation on its own -- effectively putting the ball in the governor’s court.

The MSHSL drafted three calendar models for varying lengths of the current shutdown. If the shutdown is not extended, the league can proceed with the Dec. 21 start plan. If the governor does extend the shutdown, the league has calendars for start dates of Jan. 4 and Jan. 18 for practices.


The new calendars maintain the decision from earlier this fall to hold 70% of the standard allowable contests with a limit of two contests per week. The limit will be expanded to three contests per week in the final two weeks of the regular season to allow for makeup contests.

Individual school districts will still determine the start dates for their athletic programs. That could mean a delay to the start of the athletic season if a school has extended its distance learning policy.

Of course, a later start would mean a shorter season. The league also bookmarked the week of March 29 as its projected end to the winter sports season and the week of June 14 as its projected end to spring sports.


The start of the spring sports season was not affected by the varying start dates proposed for winter sports. In all three calendar models that the league approved, boys tennis is scheduled to begin on April 5, while softball, baseball, track and field and golf are scheduled to begin April 12.

John Millea of the MSHSL also made an “important distinction” regarding the approved plans, tweeting that “the three calendar models are rough drafts. Lots of adjustments are possible, including start dates for practices and games. More work will be done when information is available from state officials.”

The league did not vote on winter state tournaments on Thursday, though discussions are still happening behind the scenes and offering post-section competition is a goal for the league. However, “possible winter/spring state tournaments are not likely to be the same as what we're used to,” Millea tweeted.

Micah Friez is the former sports editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of East Grand Forks, Minn., he worked at the Pioneer from 2015-23 and is a 2018 graduate of Bemidji State University with a degree in Creative and Professional Writing.
What To Read Next
Get Local