More than 100 high school basketball teams in Michigan had to withdraw from their respective state tournaments.
According to mlive.com, rising COVID-19 case rates throughout Michigan have had a severe impact as the state attempts to finish its winter sports seasons. Mlive reported late last week that all ongoing winter sports have been impacted, including 51 boys and 50 girls basketball teams withdrawing from state tournaments since they started March 15. Detroit Edison Public School Academy, which has won 34 straight games and is ranked first in Division 2, joined the group by withdrawing Friday evening after a player tested positive.
“We’re really at a tipping point,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, senior public health physician at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “When we look at our case-wide trends, we are not heading in the right direction. Things are a little grim at the moment, and I think if we don’t double down on those mitigation practices, if we don’t double down on testing and getting more vaccines in arms, I’m concerned about progression of these athletic team outbreaks.”
The teams are typically withdrawing due to a forced quarantine period, which occurs when a team has at least one positive COVID-19 test or has close exposures to an opponent with positive tests. The winter sports season was already shrunk significantly by the pandemic, which pushed back the start of the seasons until February.
Last Wednesday, the MDHHS reported 4,454 new COVID-19 cases, making it the first time Michigan had a seven-day moving average of more than 3,000 since Jan. 12. A March 22 report showed there are 1,341 students and staff members infected across 144 schools, from pre-K through high school.
“We at the state have prioritized keeping schools open,” Bagdasarian said. “Our goal is to keep schools open and available for in-person learning. With high school athletic outbreaks, we’re risking not just those athletic outbreaks, we’re risking not just those athletic teams, but we’re posing risk to that whole school and to that learning environment and to that community.”
Michigan’s winter season is scheduled to end April 10 with the boys basketball state championships. In order to reach that end point, the MHSAA is requiring every athlete to complete at least one antigen test per week.
“We all realize that we have a pretty intense three-week stretch to go with all of our winter sports finishing up for the winter,” said MHSAA communications director Geoff Kimmerly. “I think everyone is just doing everything they can to give themselves the opportunities to play.”
Related content: Playoffs On for Michigan HS Teams That Antigen Test
Related content: Michigan HS Sports on Pause as Part of 3-Week Order