SOSA Staff Report
COLUMBUS — After weeks of keeping Ohio sports fans on the edge of their seats, Governor Mike DeWine delivered news that made many around the state jump for joy on Tuesday.
DeWine announced that high school sports will be played in the fall as currently scheduled, with the proper safety protocols in place to limit the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
He also announced that sports will be played without spectators other than “family members or people who are close to that particular child.”
Speaking on masks, DeWine said, “As far as masks [for players], we’ve left that open so far. We’re going to see how that works. Open to schools and coaches who are monitoring that.”
Athletes will also not be required to be tested for COVID-19 before contests.
“As far as testing, there was confusion, it was never our intent that the testing requirement would be for students,” DeWine said. “We’re assuming that testing will not be that widespread. If the school has the ability to test that would be good but we don’t assume that. We’re assuming testing is not going to be that widespread unless someone has a symptom.”
The most notable news coming from the announcement centers around the fact that football and soccer will now be played throughout the fall.
The soccer season is slated to begin on Aug. 21 and will include a full calendar of contests.
Week 1 of football is scheduled for Aug. 28 and will be a six-week season, as announced last week by the Ohio High School Athletic Association. Every program in the state will be eligible for the postseason, which is scheduled to begin on Oct. 9.
Golf and tennis have already started their seasons, the volleyball season will start on Aug. 21 and cross country begins on Aug. 24.
DeWine has scheduled a conference call with high school athletic directors, coaches and administrators on Tuesday evening.
The Road to DeWine’s Decision
Thursday’s announcement comes after multiple proposals were sent to both the OHSAA and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s office by different coaches associations around the state.
The most notable, however, came on July 21 when the OHSFCA released a 37-page return to play protocol proposal that included COVID testing protocols, guidelines for spectators and busing, etc.
Details concerning that proposal can be found here.
The same day, DeWine said, “We’ve got to get a little closer to this in time. We know that training’s going on. We know that practices have been taking place. We understand the timeline, but we want to see where we are and we need to get a little closer before we can make any kind of decision in regard to that. We’ll be in consultation with a lot of coaches and with the schools.”
DeWine also released the #IWantASeason social media campaign on July 7, saying, “This is a way for Ohio athletes to take to social media to tell their friends that ‘I am wearing a mask, I am practicing social distancing, I am washing my hands, and I’m doing it because I Want a Season.’”
Last week, the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted held a conference call to discuss the association’s proposal.
Husted sent a tweet earlier this week that said, “What’s the greater risk to people under age 25, canceling in-person learning and extracurriculars (sports) to protect them from COVID or leaving it to chance how they’ll fill this time? You can’t take these things away from young people & expect good (health, academic, life) results.”
During last Monday’s news conference, DeWine learned of the Big Ten’s decision to postpone all fall athletic seasons — giving the axe to Ohio State’s 2020 fall sports campaigns.
But upon hearing that news from a reporter and being asked if that would effect his decision on the high school football season, DeWine said, “Well no decision is ever made in a vacuum. All information is important. It’s not a question of ‘Are they going to play football or not play football?’ The basic facts don’t change because of what the Big Ten has decided.”
Tuesday, during his press conference, DeWine said, “We all know the importance of sports. Sports matters. It makes a difference. Sports provide discipline, it brings order, structure in the lives of student-athletes.”