Minnesota Governor hints at youth sports 'pause' affecting football playoffs

Gov. Tim Walz said he will announce new restrictions on youth sports Wednesday, including a possible “pause” on all youth sports and a possible cancellation of the MSHSL Football playoffs.

In a news conference Tuesday, Walz telegraphed that he will order a “pause” in youth sports in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Monday, infectious disease expert Kris Ehresmann said 10 percent of all cases in Minnesota schools are associated with sports. In the last week, two schools went to distance learning because of exposure in sports. 35 outbreaks were reported in football, 46 in hockey and 25 in basketball, officials say. 

When asked if the high school football playoffs will be cancelled, he said people should “anticipate” that. MSHSL spokesperson John Millea, on Twitter, said Tuesday could be the final day of football and volleyball playoffs for a while if not for the season. 

Walz added that there will be a pause in youth sports that he describes as “broad” across a lot of sports.

"I understand the sports, the passion that's around it," Walz said. "But this is a lot bigger than that and it's a lot more issues that we're going to have to address." 

FOX 9 will have full coverage of Wednesday’s announcement and what it means. Check back in to FOX 9 and FOX9.com for the latest details.

An athlete, a parent and an administrator react

Brandy Zenk, a Blaine mom of five athletes begged the Governor and state health officials to not shut down youth sports. Her daughter Morgan Zenk is about to start hockey season and all of her kids are at home distance learning. 

"Stand up for our children," Brandy said. "They need it. They need this time to be with their friends. They need this time to be active and to excel." 

"My team means a lot to me," said Morgan. "It's always a fun experience with them and wouldn't be the same without my teammates coming to the rink and playing hockey. It would be really sad if I didn't get to see them." 

Dan Johnson is the Activities Director at Hopkins High School. He said his football team had a student athlete test positive for the virus in recent days, forcing them out of those playoffs because of the quarantine guidelines. 

"I think everyone understands that we're seeing some increase in the numbers. You can't step beside this and act like it's not happening. It's a real thing and we're going to do everything we can to keep people safe." 

"I feel like without hockey, I wouldn't be anywhere," said Morgan. "I'd be stuck at home, like doing nothing."