Walz extends Minnesota youth sports suspension two weeks

Suspension which was scheduled to be lifted Friday extended through Jan. 3. Youth sports may begin practice Jan. 4

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Bemidji's Thade Osborn, right, grapples with Sartell-St. Stephen’s Dylan Joyce in a 145-pound match on Jan. 9, 2020, at the BHS Gymnasium. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

ST. PAUL — Athletes and coaches in Minnesota finally know when they can return to action.

In a briefing on Wednesday, Gov. Tim Walz announced that youth sports in the state may begin practices on Monday, Jan. 4. There is no official certainty on when games will be allowed to begin.

“We need to get kids playing again,” Walz said. “We know that. We know that the numbers show kids aren’t as susceptible. We are coming back with them. We know we can make this work. This is about the whole child. This is really about opportunities for them — physical, mental, teamwork, all of the things that go with it.”

A four-week suspension of youth sports which took effect on Nov. 18 amid a spike in COVID-19 numbers was set to run out this Friday. Walz extended the order for another two weeks as COVID numbers have remained elevated. The original order cut short the high school football and volleyball postseasons and created a fog of uncertainty about the status of winter sports.

Walz, who was a high school football coach at Mankato West prior to becoming governor stressed he understands the importance of sports in the lives of young athletes.


“It’s not just about sports and winning a game,” Walz said. “It’s about the holistic part of child development and learning what it takes to be part of a team. It’s the mental and physical aspects of it that ties right into our schools.

“But what we know about the virus is if we’re in an activity that puts people who aren’t in the same family in close indoor contact with one another who aren’t masked, the spread is the highest in that setting. So what we look at is what type of activities we can still do.”

Wednesday’s announcement effectively puts into place a winter and spring high school sports calendar already approved by the Minnesota State High School League. The Jan. 4 start date was one of three dates anticipated by the MSHSL, with the other being Dec. 21 and Jan. 18.

Most high school sports require a minimum of 10 days of practice before they can start playing games. The first possible day of competition could be Jan. 14 with state tournaments concluding either the week of March 29 or possibly the week of April 5. There is still no official word from government officials as to when games will be allowed to begin.

The MSHSL says it is committed to providing section and state tournaments for winter sports, but tournaments dates and locations have not been finalized.

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