GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — When Grandville head coach Eric Stiegel first heard the MHSAA’s was now asking the governor permission to play football this fall, his notion was not to overreact.
“I’ve learned through all this is that stuff is going to change,” Stiegel says. “I can’t predict the future.”
That’s why Stiegel still hasn’t called his athletic director to discuss the recent developments and it’s certainly why he won’t address the news when he sees his team at practice on Tuesday. So as far as a having a football season in the fall after all, Stiegel says he’ll believe it when he sees it.
“I think there is just a level of skepticism that everybody has of, when is it really going to happen then?”
The MHSAA announced in mid-August that high school football would be postponed until the spring out of concern for COVID-19. Monday, they said the possibility of a fall season would be up for discussion if state-level restrictions changed.
Stiegel doesn’t know the answer, but Holland resident Nicole Shook thinks high schools will find out soon, as there’s speculation Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer could decide as early as Wednesday. What once seemed all but impossible is now back on the table.
“We’re not super surprised,” she says. “I think we were hoping for this actually.”
Shook is a football mom and was also an organizer for Friday’s Let Them Play rally in Lansing. Despite the MHSAA’s position, she believes the event is playing a part in the possible football resurrection.
“It really doesn’t matter whether they acknowledge it or not,” Shook, whose son is a senior at Holland Christian says. “I think the important thing is the kids are a priority.”
Shook is optimistic for a fall football return but Stiegel obviously isn’t as sure. He believes safety will still be still a hang up, and then he says there’s the difficulty of bringing back players and coaches who already made new plans with football seemingly out of the picture.
“You’re going to have unique scenarios all across the state where it might be tougher for some,” he explains.
Stiegel and Shook share several different viewpoints but they both agree there’s been a lack of communication in their direction from both the governor and the MHSAA. And while they understand there are no easy answers, they think the decision to play fall football could have been taken care of a lot better from the beginning.
“Bottom line is, it’s a mess,” said Shook. “And the problem is it’s that the kids are kind of at the brunt of all the politics.”
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