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The Minnesota State High School League continues its streak of bad calls on prep sports in the COVID-19 era. After belatedly backing down and allowing the high school football and soccer seasons to kick off, the Strib reports the league has abruptly banned postseason playoffs, including a state soccer tournament.
Last week, the soccer coaches were told their proposal to make a state tournament happen was denied. Erich Martens, MSHSL executive director, said the league would adhere to Minnesota Department of Health recommendations to mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19 with a “focus on a postseason that is based locally” to “reduce the gathering of individuals, especially from a variety of communities.”
Stillwater girls’ soccer coach Mike Huber said, “In the grand scheme, we’ve played hundreds of games and there haven’t been a lot of issues. It’s not right that the kids had a reduced season and then have it end on an arbitrary date. It doesn’t make sense to end at sections, especially for the reasons the high school league is giving us.”
But the players’ parents aren’t about to back down in their determination to see the season through to a state champion anyway.
But there is a rebound chance in the works, one being led by what Stillwater boys’ soccer coach Jake Smothers called a “highly motivated and highly organized” parent group representing various soccer booster clubs in the metro area. They are working around, not with, the MSHSL because the governing body already indicated it would not reconsider its decision to prohibit fall sports state tournaments.
Make no mistake, out-of-touch MSHSL officials still intend to do their darndest to make it difficult for the kids to play.
Playing outside the MSHSL’s purview means the previously secured metro area high school turf field sites are off limits. High school-issued team uniforms are prohibited. And the biggest challenge – coaches cannot direct their varsity players.
Smothers said the parent group has worked to address several key logistical challenges, including host sites and game officials.
The details remain to be finalized, but it will be hard to stop parents now. No matter who winds up winning, the biggest loser will be the Minnesota State High School League.