Fall sports in Ohio remain in a holding pattern as COVID-19 cases rise in the state.
In Thursday afternoon’s press conference on July 16 with Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted, both indicated that determining what to do about fall scholastic sports is a work in progress. Husted is working with the schools and the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA), as well as consulting with many other entities regarding the return of sports, including but not limited to professional, college and local organizations.
“It reminds me of the reopening of schools. It is hard to come up with one set of plans that address the unique circumstances that everybody operates under,” said Husted.
“That’s the complexity of this. You want to try and treat people the same, but you understand there are unique circumstances. We are going into this in an environment where we have had an increase in the number of cases. We are trying to balance the fact that we know sports are an integral part of Ohioans’ lives. Kids really value them (sports) as far as their character, and their physical and personal development.”
Husted emphasized wanting to get it right. But he also indicated that much will depend on the coronavirus trends in the coming days and weeks.
“We understand the magnitude and the consequences of either decision. That’s why we are taking time to work with all of the different groups to try and get this right,” said Husted. “It has been complex, but when you are listening to all of these voices, it takes time to pull it all together in a very changing environment. It is a very inclusive process. We understand that there is a need to get that information out and we are working to come to the conclusion hopefully in the near future.”
Using a baseball analogy, DeWine added, “Let me point out, this ball game is constantly changing. We don’t have a crystal ball. It is constantly changing and a moving target.”
The OHSAA released an Administrator Update on Friday, July 17 from Interim Executive Director Bob Goldring to OHSAA member schools’ superintendents, principals and athletic administrators.
In part, it read: “To begin and to reiterate, the OHSAA Office is moving forward with the normal start of the fall sports seasons, meaning practices will begin on August 1 and we will conduct our usual series of tournaments in 10 fall sports. We also realize that the Governor’s Office has yet to approve contact sports scrimmages and/or contests being permissible with other school teams. However, we are committed to moving forward in starting our fall sports on August 1 and are hopeful that school-to-school competition in ALL sports will be permissible by that date. As you all have seen during this pandemic, those plans can be modified or cancelled quickly since, just like the Governor’s Office and all of you, our focus is on the health, safety and well-being of our student-athletes, which is paramount in moving forward with interscholastic athletics.”
Also highlighted again in the memo was the #IWantASeason campaign. As has been already shared, the OHSAA, in conjunction with the Governor’s Office, has announced a social media awareness campaign to engage student-athletes and younger Ohioans in efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The description of #IWantASeason explains that everyone who looks forward to return to play can join in the campaign by sharing a video or photo that emphasizes how they plan to wear a mask, practice social distancing and wash their hands more regularly in order to slow the spread and keep the path open for sports to return in 2020. Those participating in the campaign should use the hashtag #IWantASeason.
“Just like the majority of our member school administrators, coaches, student-athletes, contest officials, parent/fans and others associated with interscholastic athletics, the OHSAA wants a season to occur and, in particular, our fall seasons,” read the memo from Goldring.
“I would be remiss if I did not remind everyone that, as Governor DeWine said in his address Wednesday afternoon (July 15), if we want a season, we all have to be ‘willing to sacrifice today for a better tomorrow.’
“We all need ‘to take action now – to sacrifice now – so our kids can be in school this fall, so they can at least have a chance to play sports.’
“So, as an organization, the OHSAA is reminding everyone that, in order for interscholastic athletics to occur, we all need to follow the protocols that have been put in place.”
More information will be released when it becomes available.