By Per Peterson
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday hinted that a pause in high school sports is all but inevitable.
Speaking during a press call to Minnesota reporters Tuesday, Walz stopped short of declaring that high school sports will be shut down, but said the time has come to put the health of Minnesota’s youth above everything else. The governor said he will make some kind of announcement regarding high school extra-curricular activities today (Nov. 18).
“I think what we’re seeing is the outbreak in youth sports … has increased relatively dramatically,” Walz said. “We will have guidance to folks; the well-being of our kids is absolutely critical. It goes hand-in-hand with their academics and other extra-curriculars. If we don’t get a handle on this, it’s not gonna be a choice whether we keep things open. There’s gonna be no coaches to coach and there’s gonna be more kids in the hospital.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, Tracy Area High School Activities Director Bill Tauer, who also sits on the Minnesota State High School League Board, hadn’t heard any indication one way or another from the League on what Walz is planning.
“If he does pause it, I hope it’s just for the start of winter sports and he lets fall finish the season off,” Tauer said. “The only problem with that is volleyball goes until mid-December. Football wouldn’t be so bad because it only goes for another week.”
Tauer also said that if Walz does shut down youth sports, that decision will cover club teams like JO volleyball and AAU basketball, as it wouldn’t be fair to shut down one and not the other.
Walz, said any pause in activities could be across-the-board, which would mean the end of fall sports.
“We’re at the point now where we’re not gonna have any coaches or referees,” he said. “I understand sports and the passion that’s around it, but this is a lot bigger than that,” Walz said.
Walz acknowledged that shutting schools down is a “terrible way to do education” and understands the negative impact things like distance learning and shutting down youth sports can have on Minnesota’s youth.