What Minnesota's 4-week pause means for youth sports

WOODBURY, MN,- SEPTEMBER 21 - Head coach Andy Hill wore a mask during Woodbury High School football practice. The Minnesota State High School League voted to allow football and volleyball teams to play for the fall season. (Photo by Leila Navidi/Star ((Photo by Leila Navidi/Star Tribune via Getty Images))

Youth sports will be put on hold for four weeks under new restrictions from Minnesota Governor Tim Walz amid the surging COVID-19 cases statewide during the pandemic, the Governor's Office announced Wednesday. 

Gov. Tim Walz announced the new four-week restrictions Wednesday night. The new order will go into place at 11:59 p.m. Friday night. The Governor's Office is calling it a Four-Week Dial Back. 


Among the sports impacted will be high school volleyball and football, which has begun its playoffs, according to the AP. Volleyball was set to begin its playoffs on Nov. 30. The Minnesota Sports High School League released the following guidance regarding the order:

  • Section football play must be completed by the end of Friday
  • Volleyball regular season ends on Friday
  • Dance ends in-person practice and competition on Friday

“We all know how important these programs are to students and to their mental and physical health and we all want students to participate," read a statement from MSHSL. "We believe League programs offered by our member schools provide the safest and most effective experiences and yet, at this time, we are required to take a pause. We look forward to returning to in-person participation in our winter sports and fine arts activities when these restrictions are lifted.” 

MSHSL will provide more guidance to schools later this week regarding winter sports and fine arts activities. 

In September, the Minnesota Sports High School League voted to hold a fall sports season after initially agreeing to push the football and volleyball seasons to the spring. 

According to the order, organized adult sports are also prohibited during this time. This however does not apply to professional sports or college athletics.


All week, the governor has been signaling that new restrictions would be coming to youth sports. In Tuesday's press conference, Walz said he would order a pause on youth sports to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

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. 

The state of Minnesota released this graphic Wednesday to show what businesses and activities will be dialed back as COVID-19 cases surge statewide. (Office of the Governor of Minnesota)

In a release, Walz said the state is at a "breaking point," as hospital beds fill up and case numbers spike across the state. 

"While these actions mean incredible hardship for many, they are the fastest way to recover our economy, keep our kids in school, and get back to the activities we love," Walz said. 


Reaction has been mixed, as some advocates want kids to able to continue to play for the mental health benefits and social interaction. Dawn Gillman, the founder of Let Them Play MN, released a statement saying the organization wants "to find solutions that don't penalize kids."

“As parents, coaches, and young athletes across Minnesota, we are disappointed that the Governor took a blunt, one-size-fits-all approach that unnecessarily hurts kids," Gilman said in a statement.

However, Walz said the pause on sports and stopping the spread outweigh other benefits for letting the seasons continue.

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