The group that oversees high school sports in Minnesota voted overwhelmingly Monday to restart football and volleyball, after deciding earlier to delay both sports until the spring because of the coronavirus.
The Minnesota State High School League board of directors voted 15-3 to begin football and 14-4 to allow volleyball to resume. The board approved a regular season of six games for football and an 11-week season for volleyball.
The decision comes as the state continues to see high numbers of positive COVID-19 tests, with health officials on Monday confirming 937 new cases. However, the state’s rate of hospital admissions has dropped to its lowest level in two months.
A survey by the high school league asking its 500 member schools on when football and volleyball should be played drew 394 responses, with 80% favoring fall football and 76% supporting fall volleyball.
Kris Ehresman, infectious disease director for the Minnesota Department of Health, said sports have led to 62 outbreaks or clusters, including 15 associated with basketball, nine with soccer, nine with hockey, nine with football and six with volleyball.
Ehresman said last week she sees “no difference now in risk from earlier in the summer when the MSHSL decided to wait on these sports.’’
The move now leaves Illinois as the lone Midwestern state that is not playing high school football, as other states have moved forward with their seasons.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker has been steadfast in his administration's opposition to resuming football and several other fall sports, saying that he remains concerned coronavirus numbers could trend in the wrong direction if those types of sports are allowed to proceed.
“I want fall sports, all fall sports, I really do,” Pritzker said Monday. “These are very, very hard choices, and my job, in part, is to weigh in on those choices and listen to the doctors.”
Critics of the governor point to the state's coronavirus metrics, saying the state is doing well enough that proceeding with sports would not represent a danger to athletes, coaches and officials.
Numerous rallies have been held across the state, with athletes and parents pushing for the administration to reverse its policies on high school sports resuming.