State, OHSAA “still working” on plans for fall contact sports

JARROD ULREY
julrey@thisweeknews.com
DeSales football players practice at the school Aug. 3. As of Aug. 4, the state continues to work with the Ohio High School Athletic Association regarding the potential approval of fall contact sports but has not finalized those plans.

The office of Gov. Mike DeWine continues to work with the Ohio High School Athletic Association regarding the potential approval of fall contact sports but has not finalized those plans, it was announced Aug. 4.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted has been working closely with the OHSAA in recent weeks and met with a representative of the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association on Aug. 3 to discuss a recent proposal from the association for the return of football.

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The Ohio Department of Health updated a contact sports order Aug. 1 that includes mandatory COVID-19 testing, but Husted clarified the current order is not related to the potential return of the fall contact sports of football, field hockey and soccer.

At a press conference Aug. 4, DeWine said he understood the “great frustration” about the uncertainty involving sports but “we want to get a little closer in time to that before making a final decision.”

“We are still working with the OHSAA to finalize that plan and are still considering many options because we want student-athletes to return to play,” Husted said. “For the athletes, coaches and fans, we understand the uncertainty and hopefully we can provide guidance in the near future. There is nobody in Ohio who wants to get this accomplished more than I do and we are working thoughtfully. … (Sports are) a source of hope and we are trying to be very diligent in getting this accomplished.”

Also during the Aug. 4 briefing, Husted clarified that cross country is no longer considered a contact sport and has been cleared to return to competition.

The other fall OHSAA non-contact sports already allowed to compete are boys and girls golf, girls tennis and girls volleyball.

“We understand how very, very important sports are to children,” DeWine said. “We don’t know exactly what is going to happen as we move forward. We have been working. Jon has been specifically working with the OHSAA and coaches to try to get this thing figured out.”

Grandview football coach Jason Peters is eager to hear a plan from the state.

“The biggest thing is we don’t know,” he said. “We need some kind of decision. That will help us figure out what direction we should be going.”

Whitehall boys soccer coach Geral Leka understands the factors that must be considered in making decisions.

“It’s very important for kids to get a sense of normalcy,” he said. “Playing sports is a great stress reliever, but at the same time, safety is a major concern. It is the No. 1 priority, especially with our superintendent (Brian Hamler). He’s done a great job prioritizing safety.”

Like many others, Worthington Kilbourne football coach Mike Edwards is waiting for the state's plans.

"I'm confident that they are trying to come up with plans," he said. "I just think right now, from my evaluation, I don't think anybody's ready to make that final decision or final call what this whole thing's going to look like, which is really difficult."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

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