EAST LANSING, Mich. — \
The Michigan High School Athletic Association reinstated the fall football season Thursday after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer lifted restrictions that did not allow the sport to be played.
Practices begin Sept. 8 and games on Sept. 17.
"It was surprising," said Eric Stiegel, head football coach at Grandville High School. "I think a lot of people thought that it was going to be a Wednesday that Governor Whitmer was going to announce that there was going to be that possibility of bringing sports back, but it was Thursday."
The first three games of the season will be scrapped since the new start date falls on the fourth week.
Following the guidance from the state, spectators at the games will be limited to two per athlete.
Football teams previously had been allowed to practice in helmets only during the traditional first week of practice, which began Aug. 10, and then during Council-approved offseason “contact” days beginning Aug. 24.
With the reinstatement of this fall’s season, football teams must cease all activity until Tuesday, Sept. 8, then practice two days in helmets and shoulder pads before adding full pads Sept. 10.
"My focus is just going to be on the kids. And, you know, even as weird as it sounds, even if there's 6000 people at Bulldog Stadium on a Friday night, I generally don't notice the crowd very much," said Coach Stiegel. "I don't think the kids do, you know, because they're really honed in on the fields."
MHSAA will hold a state tournament for schools that want to participate.
Schools are not required to participate in sports this fall and may postpone until the spring.