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Michigan high school football players may have to wear face coverings on the field

Published: Sep. 4, 2020 at 7:49 PM EDT
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BRIDGEPORT, Mich. (WJRT) - More than 24 hours after fall high school sports were given the go ahead to proceed during the coronavirus pandemic, a lot of questions remained for players, coaches and spectators.

One of the biggest questions is whether athletes besides swimmers and divers will need to wear face coverings while they are on the field or the court.

John Johnson of the Michigan High School Athletic Association said sports such as tennis, cross country and golf are already playing without masks. The MHSAA is not clear on whether that will have to change.

“We are trying to get some answers on facial coverings, because the new executive order, 176, says facial coverings in all sports except swimming when the kids are in the pool,” Johnson said.

As the orders from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer stood on Friday, Johnson said football players will have to wear face coverings on the field.

“Whether it’s a shield or one of those things that you put up over your neck, or if it’s a traditional mask like this,” he said.

Gabe Rodriguez, who runs Bridgeport school athletics, said the fields and stands are ready for football games. Players and cheerleaders can have two spectators each with limited staff.

“Two is better than none, and hopefully we can move from two to more,” he said.

Volleyball will be the same inside gymnasiums with two spectators allowed per athlete.

Plans are in place if someone on or connected to a team tests positive for coronavirus.

“If that happens, we go into shutdown and follow all those protocols,” Rodriguez said. “In the 14 days, when anyone comes in, temperature is checked, questions that are asked we follow those guidelines so there is documentation for everybody that would have been in contact with that person.”

High schools will have to commit to at least playing four to six games this fall with the season beginning on the weekend of Sept. 17 to 19. All football teams will qualify for the playoffs and championship games are slated for late November for eight-player teams and early December for 11-player teams.

“Some people will express concern because we are in the middle of a pandemic, They are playing football in 25 states right now ... and they are doing so with few problems,” Johnson said.

Copyright 2020 WJRT. All rights reserved.

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