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Michigan to end monthslong ban on youth contact sports

girl dribbling basketball in front of a blurry background
Ron Alvey
Adobe Stock

The state health department is allowing indoor contact high school sports to resume in Michigan on Monday, February 8.

Legislative Republicans – as well as parents and students – have advocated for the full return of athletics for months. Governor Gretchen Whitmer has taken the brunt of their criticism.

Speaking at a news conference this afternoon, Whitmer said a declining number of new COVID-19 cases makes the change in policy possible and said the criticism played no part in the decision.

"And throughout this time, we've been watching our numbers closely to make sure that we do achieve forward progress. And we are continuing to make it possible for students to get back into in-person learning as well.”

Across Michigan, many parents and student-athletes are excited to have the ban on contact high school sports lifted. Stacy Johnson has been working to get her two sons back on the basketball court.

“I really have no way of to describe other than tears of joy,” she said.

Her son, 17-year-old Nico Johnson, expects when his team takes the court against another school Monday night it will feel “normal.”

“Anytime that you’re able to get out there on the court and compete with other schools — just not within your own school — I think it feels normal,” he said.

Johnson testified before state lawmakers last month asking to allow winter sports to resume despite concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Athletes and coaches will need to wear masks during both practices and games. Schools have been encouraged to provide an in-person learning option by March 1.

Original Post: Feb. 4, 2021 at 1:26 p.m.

Michigan will end a monthslong ban on youth contact sports that was ordered to curb rising coronavirus cases. Governor Gretchen Whitmer is expected to announce the move Thursday, after saying last week she was optimistic about a restart.

It's not immediately clear when competition will resume or if testing will be required. The restriction currently is in place through Feb. 21.

Winter high school sports - basketball, hockey, wrestling and competitive cheer - along with youth leagues have effectively been restricted to non-contact activities only since November.

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Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting.
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