COLUMBUS — An announcement will come Tuesday next week from the governor’s office on the status of high school sports this fall, particularly in regards to contact sports and football.
Gov. Mike DeWine addressed the topic Thursday during his briefing in Columbus and dropped hints that sports will be allowed to proceed with strict guidance and protocols.
“This is a decision made by parents,” he said. “This is a decision that’s going to be made by schools.”
Teams across the state have been practicing this month in multiple sports, while some school districts have opted against allowing sports teams to work out or prepare to compete while remote learning is their plan to start the school year amid the coronavirus pandemic.
That difference is evident in Cuyahoga County, where some districts are complying with the county board of health recommendations not to conduct sports at this time. Some, after initially taking that approach, have changed course to allow their teams to begin practices.
The state already cleared low- and non-contact sports for competition between different schools, but football and other contact sports have been stuck in neutral throughout the summer. The OHSAA suspended scrimmages in late July, a blow that left many coaches questioning whether that would lead to a cancellation of this fall’s football season.
DeWine’s comments Thursday suggest a cancellation will not be coming next week from the governor’s office. The state reported 1,178 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing Ohio’s total to 105,426 cases during the pandemic.
Sanctioned high school sports stopped in March with basketball, wrestling and ice hockey in the final stages of their postseasons. At that time, the Ohio High School Athletic Association permitted restricted crowds at postseason games during the last week, which included boys basketball regionals.
Similar measures are expected, if the state OKs the OHSAA to sanction contact sports this fall.
Another clue to the state’s thinking is last week’s announcement from the OHSAA that it will go forward with a shortened football season, including a six-week regular season and playoffs for all with an end date of Nov. 21, pending approval from the governor.
“We want our kids to have this experience,” DeWine said, “but it won’t last unless we slow this coronavirus down.”