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Player safety at center of shifting high school sports schedules

Houghton High School Athletic Director John Sanregret says he remains an “eternal optimist” in regards to getting in prep sports for the district. He says with a chuckle that he thought they’d manage to play last spring’s schedule. Hope is still there to get in hockey and basketball in 2021, traditionally the highlights of the athletic calendar. 

Sanregret says there are challenges though, as dates get shifted. The most recent schedules from the MHSAA allow for hockey contests to start on February 1st with basketball games on Thursday, February 4th. Playoffs begin roughly six weeks later. Before the most recent delay, Sanregret says the basketball schedule had 17 games slated for the Gremlins. The condensed schedule has ADs looking at player safety. 

Sanregret says the goal is to avoid situations like the St. Louis Cardinals had last baseball season, playing doubleheaders almost every day to make up for COVID-19 postponements. Every sport has seen teams go through something similar as NFL games were rescheduled for Tuesday or even Wednesday when necessary this past season. The question becomes, how much can you pack into a schedule before it becomes a threat to the participants?

More than three games in a week for any winter sport is pretty tough. I mean, that’s gonna be our limit, three in a week.

Practices start tomorrow. That’s one positive. Fan attendance is another.

The other good thing, I think, that we can look forward to is there will be spectators. We weren’t sure if there would be spectators at all, so…

While fall sports were significantly altered, it is winter athletes who have borne the brunt of COVID-19 changes so far. Last year’s championship tournaments were ended abruptly and now the 2021 season hangs in the balance. For many varsity student-athletes, two seasons is a full career. Sanregret hopes that those making decisions in Lansing fully understand how important it is to allow for a season as close to normal as possible to occur.

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