The first step towards local schools and organizations being able to resume holding sporting events seemingly was taken late last week.
During the daily updates offered by Governor Mike DeWine, it was announced that on May 26, a number of activities would be allowed to resume, including gyms, fitness centers and dance studios being able to reopen, as well as sports leagues for various non-contact or limited-contact sports.
In a Friday memo from Ohio High School Athletic Association Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass to member schools’ superintendents, principals and athletic directors, he noted that this news will impact schools.
“While his re-opening of sports appears to be directed to all non-school sports (club, travel, AAU, etc.), the measures do have implications on school districts and regulations for school coaches and student-athletes,” he said. “This is especially true for the number of non-school sports that utilize school facilities.”
Snodgrass noted that the OHSAA has every intention of aligning with the governor’s orders; however his organization will have to work to determine just what they will be allowed to do. He said that the OHSAA has no jurisdiction over school facilities and buildings, which have been ordered closed by the Ohio Department of Health since April 29. Other facilities, including stadiums, were then ordered closed the next day.
Snodgrass also said in the memo that, as of that time, the governor’s office had only released guidelines for baseball and softball, to be found at this link: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/static/responsible/Baseball-Softball.pdf , so work will need to be done in order to provide guidelines for other sports.
With baseball and softball, both mandatory and recommended guidelines were released, including six-foot physical distancing at all times except when the ball is in play, wearing face coverings except for athletes actively participating in the field of play, conducting daily symptom assessments and staying home if experiencing symptoms and no team water coolers or shared drinking stations as mandatory.
Snodgrass added that, even with the non-contact period lifted for those sports, it will not be possible to attempt holding a spring sports season.
“The OHSAA spring sports seasons and tournaments have been cancelled and will not be conducted during the summer,” he said. “The decision was made looking at every possible option at the time. It simply is not possible to put spring sports in place for everyone at this time. We have continued to use every possible avenue to be involved with ‘reopening’ Ohio’s sports and, while our communication has been acknowledged, we still do not have a seat at the table for the reopening.”
While the OHSAA’s non-contact period will be lifted for baseball, golf, softball, swimming and diving, tennis and track and field, other sports will have decisions made about them in the future.
“Since the governor has not identified which sports fall under the ‘low/no-contact sports’, a decision will be forthcoming on the no-contact period for those remaining sports as soon as information is provided to us,” he said. “Under the current decision, all other sports have not been identified as being able to start.”
The OHSAA Board of Directors did discuss and approve a regulation stating that: “Members of a school team’s coaching staff in the team sports of baseball, basketball, field hockey, football, ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer, softball and volleyball may coach students from their school teams from June 1 through Aug. 31 without restriction except that participation cannot be mandatory.”
It was added that the three-month period is only for this year and that beginning with the summer of 2021, “the period of unrestricted coaching for interscholastic team sports coaches with their student athletes will return to the period from June 1-July 31.” Also, with football, only non-contact football will be permitted.
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS