By Joseph Hayes
When the news came Thursday from the Michigan governors office that Michigan Public Schools would be cancelled in person for the remainder of the year, it was obvious what would come next.
On Friday the official word arrived from the Michigan High School Athletic Association office, that the 2019-20 Winter and Spring sports seasons were also being cancelled.
“We are heartbroken to not be able to provide these opportunities for Michigan’s student-athletes, and especially seniors. We continue to hear from dozens asking us to hold out hope. But safety always must come first, and Governor Whitmer is making courageous decisions to safeguard the people of our state,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said.
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“We understand as much as anyone how much school sports mean to athletes and their communities. We had ideas and hopes for finishing Winter and Spring and helping bring some sort of normalcy after this long break. But this is the correct decision, and we will play our part in bringing schools and communities together again when the time is right.
“For now, we cannot state strongly enough that all students, staffs and others follow the guidelines established to slow the spread of this virus – we all must do our part.”
This will be the first year without the finals being played since World War II in 1942-43.
On March 12, the MHSAA suspended girls and boys basketball, boys ice hockey, girls gymnastics and boys swimming & diving tournaments because of COVID-19 concerns. All activity in all sports was halted permanently on March 13. Spring sports had begun practice, but not competitions up until that point.
At the final game of competition I covered this winter, the Richmond-St. Clair boys basketball game, there was a special intensity in the air.
No one however, could have imagined that it would be the last competition that we would all be attending in the days, weeks and months ahead. But looking back on it, surely this high school season will always be remembered for its abrupt end.