COLUMBUS — Speaking before a group of assembled media from around the state, Ohio High School Athletic Association Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass said that, while officials are doing everything they can to find a way to still play the winter sports tournaments, cancelling the events is still on the table.
“Everything is on the table,” Snodgrass said. “I would be remiss if I did not say that.”
Snodgrass went over several key factors the OHSAA is weighing, in making a final decision on whether or not to continue with Winter high school sports postseason events, and said a final decision could be made “within the next 24-48 hours.”
On March 12, the OHSAA opted to “postpone indefinitely” the state girls basketball, state hockey, state wrestling and regional boys basketball high school events that were taking place. The decision was made as a way of slowing down the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, of which there is no vaccine at this time.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine had asked organizations to avoid assembling large groups of people at venues throughout the state. More recently, the federal government has suggested people avoid assembling in groups of more than 10 people.
All Spring Sports athletes and coaches were instructed not to have practices of any kind during an initial no-contact period which will last until April 6. Snodgrass encouraged coaches to provide emailed or texted instruction to the athletes on ways to stay in shape on their own, but also admitted that the no-contact period could be extended even longer.
Snodgrass said factors such as site availability, coaches and officials availability have played a role in determining whether there’s even a remote possibility of still having state and regional winter sports tournaments this season.
“There are people in the risk category that we cannot and will not subject to being faced with being infected by this virus,” he said. “So there are many factors with this. Much of this hinges on future decisions by the governor on whether we close schools for a longer period of time.”
Some venues, originally scheduled to host high school tournament games, have since shutdown because of the coronavirus. OHSAA officials are now scrambling to try and find other suitable venues, while somehow adhering to the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC.gov) less-than-10-people suggestion.
Snodgrass said OHSAA officials have even been looking at ways to pare the state wrestling tournament down to CDC recommended levels, a move that would move more than 600 wrestlers, coaches, referees, match officials and media to at least 60 venues across the state.
“Wrestling has 621 wrestlers and 300 schools that are part of the state tournament. So moving a sport like that, everything from splitting it up to different sites, it’s very difficult to do that with the number of weight classes and to still get it down to the recommendations of the CDC of having less than 10 people together, it almost becomes impossible to do that,” Snodgrass said. “Again, I emphasize with every comment that it does not negate the emotional feeling that we all have relative to those wrestlers who have done so much.”
It’s very possible that the Spring sports championships would be held to the same scrutiny, Snodgrass said.
It’s estimated the OHSAA lost 1.4-1.5 Million in ticket revenue by postponing the Winter tournaments. Snodgrass said the non-profit organization depends on a $19 Million budget, with 80 percent of that total coming from ticket sales.
John Bombatch can be reached at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123. A full listing of OHSAA-related announcements can be found at OHSAA.org.