Who needs science and data when you have mass hysteria and fear?

The Michigan High School Athletic Association, the governing body of Michigan high school sports, decided on Friday to cancel the 2020 fall football high school season and move it to spring 2021. 

The decision came hours after East Lansing cancelled all of their high school sports and in-person extra-curricular activities. Holt had already cancelled fall football on Friday. The writing was on the wall, really, when the Big 10 cancelled their football season last week.

More than 34,000 Michigan high school football players won’t be suiting up this fall. 603 teams of 11 and 8 players are sidelined.

1.6 million spectators will not be watching high school football.

Schools will not be able to rely on football ticket sales, concessions and merchandise to help pay for other athletic programs in their schools.

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The MHSAA cited football’s higher risk for spreading COVID-19 due to player-to-player contact as the reason for cancelling the fall season. They said the decision was made in consultation with the state health department and as a result of a survey from MHSAA member schools (athletic directors) on how they were doing and how they wanted to move ahead after four days of practice that had started on August 10th. 

Regional director for the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association and Traverse City West coach Greg Vaughan, said Friday’s decision did not reflect the sentiment he received while speaking to coaches and ADs from across the state and said he wished the MHSAA would have notified coaches before the release.

“I’m very much concerned about the mental health for our kids,” Vaughan said. “If they don’t have an outlet some way and they’re locked back in their houses … I’m very worried about that.”

TC West all-state linebacker Christian Boivin said, “Obviously, I’m extremely disappointed and frustrated. It sucks to be able to start up something you love with the people that love to do it and have it taken away from you so quickly. You ask any high schooler, we almost need sports. It’s part of the experience and it’s a huge part of our lives. And to a lot of kids, that’s what they get up to do. It’s their thing and that’s how they want to spend every second if they can.”

The 19 members of the MHSAA Representative Council who voted to cancel the fall football season includes 10 members who are from the hotter COVID-19 zones in southern Michigan, cities south of Lansing, where case numbers are higher. 

10 of the 19 members also have their terms expiring at the end of the year and would be up for possible re-election if they choose to continue their service.

It really doesn’t appear that data has anything to do with this decision because there is no real data available other than having information on cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

What we see now are governments, organizations, businesses and associations deciding things from a position of fear and anxiety because they don’t want to make decisions that would lead to more coronavirus cases (any) or liability issues. They don’t want to be held responsible for anything and so the easiest decision they can make is to cancel everything.

The decisions are being made from a “what if” mindset, not data and science.

MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said, “At the end of the day, we did everything we could to find a path forward for football this fall. But while continuing to connect with the Governor’s office, state health department officials, our member schools’ personnel and the Council, there is just too much uncertainty and too many unknowns to play football this fall.”

So, like I said, no data. Opinions and decisions based on uncertainty and fear. What data is the state health department giving them? Do they have any actual studies on this? No. Because it’s unknown. No science, no data. A lack of both.

If they were actually looking at data in Michigan, they would see a cumulative total of 5852 COVID-19 cases of children ages 10-19 in Michigan of the 91,140 cases the state has reported on since they started keeping track in the spring. That means that the kids are only 6.4% of the cases. And the only death of a child from COVID-19 I was able to find was one child back in April.

The CDC says that children only make up 7% of the cases while they are 22% of the population and they have hospitalization rates significantly lower than adults. Most children 18 and under are asymptomatic or have very mild systems and current data doesn’t appear to have them as major transmitters.

That is the data we actually have. That is the data that is ignored while decisions are being made about school openings and school sports based on conjecture about the future.