Minnesota families sue MSHSL over 'arbitrary' limits on fans

Stands sit empty at a Minnesota High School football stadium.

Four families of Minnesota High School fall athletes have filed a lawsuit against the state high school league for what they call "arbitrary" limits on fans at sporting events this fall.

The lawsuit alleges the MSHSL’s limits are more restrictive than the Minnesota Department of Health’s guidance for events, specifically the banning of spectators from girls’ volleyball matches and the limit of 250 spectators at football games.

Volleyball and Football were both delayed to the spring season earlier this year as the pandemic hit Minnesota, but last week, the MSHSL reversed course, allowing the seasons to play this fall.

The suit was filed on behalf of a Rockford senior volleyball player, a Cold Spring senior football player, a Richmond junior football player and a Starbuck senior volleyball player.

The families made clear in the lawsuit that they “do not seek to mandate that any person watch their games if they are uncomfortable or believe it is unsafe.” Instead, they just ask that the MSHSL follow the Department of Health’s latest event guidance instead of “arbitrarily making determinations regarding health risks.”

The lawsuit points to the following discrepancies between the MSHSL’s spectator limitations versus the Minnesota Department of Health’s event guidance from Sept. 21:

Indoor spectator limit:

MDH: No greater than 25 percent capacity and not to exceed 250 patrons.

MSHSL: No spectators are allowed at indoor venues.

Outdoor spectator limit:

MDH: 25 percent capacity for entire venue and not to exceed 250 patrons unless “sections” are properly established. If sections are established, venue occupancy…is not to exceed 250 patrons for each section and not exceed 1,500 patrons for the entire venue.

MSHSL: Outdoor venues may host up to 250 guests or 25 percent capacity of the venue, whichever is less.


MDH: Allowed…as long as social distancing exists.

MSHSL: Not allowed.

Medical personnel:

MDH: Have an isolated area for COVID-19 treatment.

MSHSL: No more medical personnel than in past year.