If Gov. Tim Walz gives the go-ahead to relieve Executive Order 20-99, the Minnesota State High School League is ready to un-pause sports Dec. 21 with contests beginning in early January.

At the Dec. 3 Board of Directors Meeting, Jill Johnson, athletic director at Waconia High School, chairwoman of the Return to Participation Task Force, set out three proposed timelines for winter and spring sports.

Winter seasons would conclude during the week of March 29, with spring seasons wrapping up the week of June 14.

Johnson said the task force focused on the number of contests as being primary, the length of the season being secondary. Section tournament length may be shrunk into a week or week-and-a-half. Postseason options for individuals and teams will continue to be evaluated.

The MSHSL acknowledged a need to maintain a near-normal spring sports season after schools lost the entire 2020 season. That means an equal amount of competitions in a condensed calendar. In all three models, the timeline and weeks of play remain the same for spring sports.

The high school league also is protecting options for postseasons that go beyond sections for both winter and spring sports.

Previously approved regular season calendars reduced by 30 percent — along with no tournaments, jamborees or invitationals — remain for winter sports. Triangulars are allowed for dance, Nordic and alpine ski, wrestling and gymnastics.

The rally cry from the Return to Participation task force is "be ready, be flexible."

Asked Dec. 3 if the governor has decided whether to extend the shutdown of high school sports beyond Dec. 18, he said it is a possibility.

"It's going to be dependent on where we're at in this virus," Walz said. "We are still in the heart of this pandemic."

In other news:

  • The MSHSL Board of Directors unanimously approved a virtual State Debate Tournament and a virtual State One Act Play Festival, following the models and guidelines being used for the section tournaments.
  • Also approved were minor adjustments for the nine-man football classification process. District assignments will take place in the same time frame as section realignment and enrollment figures will be grades 8-11 instead of 9-12.