COLUMBUS — The Ohio High School Athletic Association announced Friday, July 31, practice was set to begin for fall sports on Aug. 1, including girls tennis, girls and boys golf, field hockey, girls and boys soccer, girls and boys cross country, volleyball and football.
While practice is beginning for most fall sports, the OHSAA previously announced scrimmages were suspended indefinitely for contact sports including football, soccer, field hockey and cross country, while scrimmages can continue in low or non-contact sports including golf, girls tennis and volleyball.
In an memo sent to member schools earlier on Friday, the OHSAA reaffirmed its position fall sports will go on as planned.
“It is important to keep athletic activity moving forward,” said Dan Leffingwell, OHSAA Board of Directors President in the release. “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. Membership data also supports this decision.”
According to a question and answer document released by the OHSAA, the organization conducted a survey of member schools and found that more than 40 percent of membership wanted to move forward with the season as planned.
Despite the large percentage, many schools in Ohio have already taken steps cancel or limit fall sports, but the OHSAA said that most of their 815 schools are still able to begin the season, and they will compete in permitted sports until Governor Mike DeWine, the Ohio Department of Health or the OHSAA Board of Directors say otherwise.
“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.”
The release also noted, if contact sports are not approved for school vs. school competition by Friday, Sep. 4, fall contact sports and remaining winter and spring sports will move to a condensed schedule between mid-December and the end of June 2021. However, fall non-contact sports would still move forward as scheduled.
The OHSAA also has plans for a modified fall sports season if the fall season begins, is paused and then is able to resume again.
Conversations are also being had between the OHSAA, the Governor’s Office and the Ohio Department of Health regarding the status of field hockey and/or cross country being placed into the low/non‐contact category.
Additionally, if contact sports are approved for school vs. school competition, the OHSAA will establish COVID-19-related requirement for schools to follow for compeitions. These requirements have been requested by the Governor’s office, and the OHSAA will govern and issue consequences for schools in violation of these requirements.
The rules for practices and scrimmages from the OHSAA are as follows:
Low/Non-Contact Sports (Golf, Girls Tennis, Volleyball)
• Official practices may begin on Saturday, Aug. 1.
• School vs. school scrimmages and/or contests will follow per their normal OHSAA permissible dates and regulations.
• Golf – One scrimmage permitted any time during season; first contest Aug. 5.
• Girls Tennis – One scrimmage permitted after practice begins and prior to first match; first contest Aug. 7.
• Volleyball – Five scrimmages and one preview permitted after practice begins; first contest Aug. 21.
• Official practices will begin on Saturday, 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 (Note: This date is subject to change and subject to the approval from the Governor’s Office/Ohio Department of Health and with the stipulation that COVID-19 testing will not be required).
Other Contact Sports (Soccer, Field Hockey, Cross Country)
• Practices will begin on Saturday, Aug. 1, 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 Friday, Aug. 21, for soccer and field hockey and Monday, Aug. 24, for cross country (Note: These dates are subject to change and subject to the approval from the Governor’s Office/Ohio Department of Health and with the stipulation that COVID-19 testing will not be required.)
Reach Braden Moles at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @BradenMoles