The Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) on Friday reaffirmed their position that the OHSAA fall sports seasons will go forward as planned.
In a letter sent to member schools, OHSAA interim executive director Bob Goldring said low/non-contact sports and contact sports will be permitted to begin officials practices on Aug. 1 as had been previously announced.
“It is important to keep athletic activity moving forward,” said Dan Leffingwell, president of the OHSAA Board of Directors and superintendent of Noble Local Schools in Sarahsville. “And with that, we believe our member schools provide our student-athletes with the safest possible environment to return to play and that our school programs are the best avenue to help students learn lifelong lessons and provide social, emotional and physical benefits that other programs cannot. Moving forward allows those students to continue to be engaged with their school coaches and teammates.”
Low/non-contact sports such as golf, girls tennis, and volleyball can begin official practices on Aug. 1, and school vs. school scrimmages and/or contests will follow per their normal OHSAA permissible dates and regulations.
For golf, one scrimmage is permitted any time during the season, with first contests taking place Aug. 5. One scrimmage is permitted for girls tennis after practice begins and prior to first matches, with the first contest taking place Aug. 7. For volleyball, five scrimmages and one preview are permitted after practice begins, with the first contest on Aug. 21.
For football, officials practices will begin Aug. 1 with the normal acclimatization period in place. No school vs. school scrimmages are permitted. School vs. school contests will follow per their normal OHSAA permissible dates and regulations with a target date of the week of Monday, Aug. 24. This date is subject to change and subject to approval from Gov. Mike DeWine’s office and the Ohio Department of Health, with the stipulation that COVID-19 testing will not be required.
Other contact sports such as soccer, field hockey, and cross country can begin practices on Aug. 1 as well, with the normal acclimatization period in place for cross country. No school vs. school scrimmages are permitted in soccer or field hockey. School vs. school contests will follow per their normal OHSAA permissible dates and regulations with a target date of Aug. 21 for soccer and field hockey and Aug. 24 for cross country. Those dates are also subject to change and subject to approval by the governor’s office and the Ohio Department of Health.
If contact sports are not approved for school vs. school competition by Friday, Sept. 4, fall contact sports and remaining winter and spring sports will move to a condensed schedule that will take place between mid-December and the end of June. Fall non-contact sports would move forward as scheduled.
If the fall seasons begin and, for some reason, are stopped but then resume, the OHSAA has plans to move to a modified fall sports season. If contact sports are approved for school vs. school competition, the OHSAA is prepared to set COVID-19-related requirements for schools to follow for competitions as requested by the governor’s office.
Conversations with the governor’s office and the Ohio Department of Health continue regarding the status of field hockey and/or cross country being placed into the low/non-contact category. Member schools will be updated if that changes for either or both sports.
“If we were to delay, our students will find opportunities to compete in sports through non-school programs that may not be focused on safety and are not education-based,” Leffingwell said. “Should data on COVID-19 change and/or the governor’s office makes changes to our plan, we have flexibility that would allow us to look at implementing other models for our seasons.”