The Minnesota State High School League has decided how to handle the upcoming fall sports season in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The MSHSL voted to move high-risk sports (football, volleyball) to the spring, while creating a 'fourth season' during the summer for sports normally played in the spring (softball, baseball, etc).

A spring football season will be shortened to run from mid-March to mid-May to allow multi-sport athletes to participate in their spring sports during the aforementioned 'fourth season,' which would end in July.

The league also considered a shortened, six-game/twelve-week football season with wiggle room built in for rescheduling. Ultimately, the league decided to move the season to the spring.

An initial vote on moving volleyball to the spring failed, with the board splitting 9-9. A subsequent vote to keep the activity in the fall also failed by a split 9-9 vote.

Despite concern from coaches, board members and players about a move to spring hurting club programs, the volleyball season was ultimately moved to March.

"Low risk" sports (tennis, cross country running, swimming/diving) will still be played in the fall. Those sports will begin on August 17th as scheduled. The league's task force recommended that all seasons be reduced 20 percent in length, eliminating 30 percent of competitions to limit the amount of travel for teams.

Other restrictions include a limit of two events per week, only three teams allowed at cross-country events and two teams allowed at swim/diving meets.

Based on guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health, no spectators will be allowed at any indoor sporting events held at 'learning centers.'

The league will allow soccer to be played in the fall, based on the fact that it features minimal contact and is played outdoors, but the season will be shortened. The vote was 18-0.

All matches will be scheduled against local teams, with no scrimmages allowed.

The MSHSL also suggested that schools who are participating in distance learning based on COVID-19 numbers in their districts would have only virtual participation in activities, while hybrid learning districts could make that decision individually.

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