MHSA says fall sports are on

by Fritz Neighbor
Daily Inter Lake | July 30, 2020 9:00 AM

The Montana High School Association said all systems are go Monday, with executive director Mark Beckman releasing a statement confirming sports will happen, with certain requirements pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It means that high school football teams in the state will open fall practice as scheduled on Aug. 14, along with volleyball, cross country and soccer teams.

Competition begins Aug. 15 for state golf teams and Aug. 27 for football, soccer, cross country and football.

The main limitation is that events, with certain exceptions in cross country and golf, are not to be multi-event.

That’s the usual scenario in football, which like the rest of these sports is rated “Tier 1,” though it is a high-contact sport that makes social distancing impossible.

General requirements and considerations for all sports include:

n That practices be conducted in “pods” or “bubbles” of participants to limit exposure;

n That timeouts can be increased to two minutes to ensure athletes get safely hydrated, without sharing a water bottle;

n That administrators limit the number of non-essential personnel on the playing surface.

The MHSA lists all the sports as Tier 1; masks are required per the Governor’s directive and golf and cross country dual meets are recommended and encouraged.

The MHSA noted that attendance at sanctioned events is dependent on the host site and local health department guidelines and restrictions.

Schools may have to submit a plan for fan attendance to their local health department.

Multi-team cross-country events are possible with restrictions that include: no more than 200 participants; no more than 25 runners at the (staggered) start; face masks be worn in the marshalling areas; competitors leave the finish line immediately for their team bus.

Golf competitions that are multi-team have to be limited to 90 players on an 18-hole course and 45 on a 9-hole course, and it is mandated that schools play as one tee time – that is, no mixing of foursomes or fivesomes among schools.

Like cross-country, competitors can not gather afterward but rather have to head to the bus.

The MHSA also noted that the All-State band, choir and orchestra music festival on Oct. 14-16 has been canceled due to high-risk of transmission and will not be rescheduled in 2020-21.

The rest of the fall activities are, for now, a go.