The Minnesota State High School League took a cautious step toward the return of high school sports on Wednesday, approving coaches to work with their athletes beginning on June 15 pending approval by the league's board of directors.
However, the new start date of the summer waiver period, that was originally set to begin on Monday, does not mean that the fall season will go on as planned. Nor does it mean that a slew of high school teams will begin practice at that date.
The 2020-21 fall season still has hurdles to go through as the state navigates the COVID-19 pandemic. With social distancing guidelines in place, some schools have closed their facilities to a later date in the summer while others use city-owned facilities that may be shut down to discourage large gatherings.
To account for this, the MSHSL has allowed schools to choose their own starting date, but that could create an advantage for schools that decide to get out right away as opposed to those who wait for their facilities to open.
In addition, the MSHSL has not made a final decision on what will happen with the fall sports season. While nothing has been postponed or canceled, the league will take advice from Gov. Tim Walz and the Minnesota Department of Health before making a decision.
That puts the state's athletic directors in a precarious spot as well. According to the Star Tribune's David LaVaque and Jim Paulsen, most schools have operated as if a season will take place not because of optimism, but because it's easier to slam on the brakes rather than plan everything in a short window.
If the start date of June 15 is approved, teams will be allowed to train through Aug. 7 with July 3-5 designated as a no-contact period. The 2020 fall season is scheduled to begin on Aug. 17.