MPSSAA calls off basketball finals, spring sports season

By José Umaña/The Sports Pulse Contributor

HYATTSVILLE – More than a month after calling off all high school athletic events throughout the state due to coronavirus known as COVID-19, the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) announced on April 28 that it is canceling the remainder of its basketball state finals and its spring sports season and championships.

The decision comes after Maryland State Superintendent Dr. Karen Salmon announced canceling all athletic events during a state Board of Education meeting. MPSSAA released a statement following Salmon’s announcement that the decision was made after “careful review and consultation” between both parties.

“[MPSSAA] is officially announcing the cancellation of all MPSSAA events for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year,” the statement said. “This includes the remainder of the 2020 Boys and Girls Basketball State Championships and all spring sports, as well as spring State Championships.”

With the cancelation, MPSSAA is the last public school association to cancel its spring sports season in the metropolitan region. The Virginia High School League (VHSL) shut down all high school athlete competitions on March 23 as the state began its quarantine efforts.

Once Washington, D.C. announced its plans to continue at-home learning for the rest of the school year, both the District of Columbia State Athletic Association (DCSAA) and D.C. Public Schools Athletics (DCPS) office confirmed the cancelation of their spring seasons in mid-April.

Luckily for DCSAA, the championship games were held earlier this year before the coronavirus pandemic hit. Photo by Cory Royster/The Sports Pulse

The state was in the middle of its final weekend of the state basketball championships, scheduled to take place on March 12-14. With the continued spread of the coronavirus, only players, coaches and their immediate families were going to be allowed in the Xfinity Center in College Park and SECU Arena in Towson for their respective tournament games.

As the spread continued, officials elected to postpone the finals on March 12 and all athletics events indefinitely on March 27. Numerous coaches and student-athletes voiced their concerns on playing via social media, especially after the death of Northwestern High School boys basketball coach Terrence Burke due to COVID-19 on March 27.

“Do I want to play the game? Absolutely I want to play,” Dr. Henry Wise, Jr. High School boys basketball Head Coach Louis Wilson said. “I definitely want to have a chance to compete and have a chance for a state championship, but I know it more than basketball. This is a real-life situation.”

Dr. Henry A. Wise High School will no longer have a chance to finish postseason competition because of the MPSSAA tournament cancellation. Photo by Phillip/Peters/The Sports Pulse.

Spring sports affected by the decision include baseball, softball, lacrosse, track and field and tennis. Teams were in the middle of their preparations for the year once practices began on Feb. 29, preparing for the season to start on March 20. Their state final games were slated to begin on May 12 and finish on the 23.

“With this announcement, the MPSSAA wishes to extend its heartfelt gratitude and admiration to all of our member schools’ graduating seniors, underclassmen, coaches, administrators, and extracurricular athletic and activity sponsors who have dedicated countless hours to these programs,” MPSSAA said.

Moving forward, MPSSAA said it would work on ensuring the return of high school athletics by working under the guidelines in Gov. Larry Hogan’s “Maryland Strong Road Map to Recovery” plan, which was announced earlier in the day. 

The plan, created by the governor’s office with the help of scientists, business leaders, and public health experts, is a “safe, effective, and gradual approach” on how to reopen Maryland during the pandemic, Hogan said.

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