Coronavirus having huge effect on local sports

By Rob Hamilton - [email protected]

Over the course of last week, to say things progressed quickly as far as coronavirus and the response to that disease goes would be an understatement. As a result, there currently is a lot of uncertainty concerning local athletics — involving both the conclusion of the winter sports season and the beginning of the spring season.

This column is simply meant to inform as to where the situation currently stands as of Monday, March 16. Due to how quickly things changed during last week, where in the course of a few days, things went from business as usual to greatly limiting the number of fans at contests to no contests being held, there is a good chance some or even all of this information will be obsolete by the time the Wednesday print edition has been released. Therefore, it’s advised to keep up to date on where updates will be posted as they are released.

Last Thursday morning, the decision was made to indefinitely postpone all winter tournaments. According to a Friday memo distributed by OHSAA Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass, these tournaments have not been officially canceled and the OHSAA is assessing the situation on a daily basis.

Seven Morrow County athletes — all wrestlers — are affected by this postponement, as the state wrestling meet was originally scheduled to take place this past weekend. Northmor senior Conor Becker was looking to defend his Division III 170-pound state title at the Schottenstein Center, while four of his teammates also were looking to reach the podium. Senior Gavin Ramos had placed in 2018 and was returning to state after not qualifying last year, while sophomore teammate Niko Christo won one match in last year’s tournament. Seniors Dale Brocwell and Austin Amens were to be in their first state meet.

Two other area wrestlers were also set to make their first appearance in the state meet as competitors. In Division II, Highland senior Christian Miller had advanced; while Mount Gilead junior Andy Williamson also got through districts in Division III.

When the state wrestling meet or any of the other winter sports seasons would be allowed to conclude is unclear. On Friday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced that schools would shut down for three weeks beginning at the end of today (Monday) and that no extracurricular activities, including practices, would be allowed to be held on their premises from March 17 until April 5.

In the OHSAA’s Friday memo, a tentative schedule for spring sports was provided. With a return-to-school date tentatively set for April 6, April 6-10 would be set aside for practices and acclimatization, with scrimmages and regular season contests allowed to begin on April 11. However, there also was a disclaimer added to the memo stating, “Since the current situation is rapidly changing, any of these may need to be adjusted.”

Among other things that have happened since Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended to restrict events of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks. This was followed by Governor DeWine ordering the closing of restaurants and bars as far as dine-in services go (carry-out and/or delivery still is an option at many places). Today, the governor recently issued an order for other businesses to close, including gyms, fitness centers, recreation centers, bowling alleys, indoor water parks, movie theaters and trampoline parks. Also, it has been recommended that in-person voting be changed from this week’s date until June 2.

And high school sports haven’t been the only sports-related activities effected by coronavirus. Locally, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course canceled its on-premises job fair, which was to be held last weekend. For outdoorsmen, Columbus’ Outdoor Life/Field & Stream Ohio Expo, scheduled for this weekend, has been postponed.

On a national level, most collegiate and professional sporting events also are indefinitely postponed or, in the case of many collegiate events and tournaments, canceled.

In other words, this is a situation unlike any other I’ve been around throughout my career. It is changing extremely quickly and something that gets announced on one day may have already been overwritten by the next. At the current time, there is the potential for local sports to be back in action by early April, but it’s impossible to know if that will still happen, as seemingly every day brings new closures, postponements and cancellations.

By Rob Hamilton

[email protected]

Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS

Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS