CEDARVILLE — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine Tuesday uttered the words high school athletes and coaches have been waiting to hear for a long time.
” … all sports may go forward this fall, with contact and the non-contact sports,” DeWine said during a Zoom conference with state-wide media. “And we lay out exactly the road map and how this should take place and what has to be done to make it as safe as possible.”
Non-contact sports — tennis, volleyball, golf, and cross country — had already been cleared to compete against other schools. What the Ohio High School Athletic Association and its member schools, coaches, athletes, and family members were waiting on was guidance on the contact sports of field hockey, football, and soccer, the latter of which was set to start Friday.
An order, expected to be issued some time day or tomorrow and effective Friday, will provide such guidance on how those and the non-contact sports can be contested as safely as possible in the COVID-19 era.
“We all know the importance of sports,” DeWine said. “Sports matters. It makes a difference.”
DeWine didn’t release too many details of the order, as it was still being finalized Tuesday. He said there will be no big surprises and the focus will be on the “young people” and letting them play.
No spectators will be allowed other than family and/or people who are close to that particular athlete. It will be up to the schools on how to do that, DeWine said.
“We’re not going to tell them how to do it,” he said.
A compliance person from the host school’s staff will be in attendance at all events to make sure the order is being followed, DeWine said.
“I hope and I believe it will work,” he added. “I would just express a hope, I have lots of hopes, but one hope is that the desire to have a season will inspire our young people, our athletes, our student athletes 24-7 to be as careful as they can.”
On the heels of the announcement, the OHSAA released some general and sports-specific guidelines as the fall season moves forward. Most have to do with proper hygiene and social distancing.
“The OHSAA is moving forward because we want kids to have an opportunity to participate, and the Governor’s Office is providing that opportunity and a chance,” said Bob Goldring, OHSAA interim executive director. “So for that we are most appreciative. It’s important to remember that our student-athletes have been practicing and training with others for weeks and even months, and it has gone well. So, we believe they deserve the chance to move forward, and that the high school space is also different than the collegiate space.”
And the high school space this fall will be different than years past.
“Its not going to be your typical Friday night football in Ohio,” DeWine said.
But at least there will be football.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.