Complications of moving football to springtime

Football to the spring.

It’s flown off of people’s lips and on their social media accounts.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, people are getting nervous about increased positive test results. Talking about moving a staple of the fall – high school football – to the spring isn’t as easy as some might think.

Many scenarios have surfaced, none more than speculation at this time.

Tom Pavlansky, Lakeview High School coach and president of the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association, made the organization’s stance known Sunday night. ThisWeek Community News in Columbus reported in a story this weekend a group of central Ohio high school football coaches proposed moving football from fall to spring.

The OHSFCA’s statement was if the information didn’t come from Pavlansky, another officer or from the Ohio High School Athletic Association, it should be treated as a rumor.

Moving seasons isn’t like waiving a magic wand and poof, the seasons are set, the longtime coach said. There are more moving parts in this scenario.

“It would be really complex,” Pavlansky said. “From everything I’ve heard, from athletic directors, who are members of our coaches association, they said it would be a nightmare.

“To me, that says it all right there – the challenge in terms of scheduling, in terms of assigning, in terms of coaches. Kids will have to make a choice of what sports to play. There’s a whole range of questions I’m sure I haven’t even touched on. It would be incredibly challenging.”

The OHSFCA has stated the OHSAA has guaranteed if and when decisions need to be made about adjusting the football season, the OHSFCA will have “a seat at the table” in those matters.

The current focus is starting football Aug. 1.

Hypothetically, say the season was moved to the spring and still was 15 weeks long – including the five-week playoffs.

To end football before the July 4, 2021, holiday weekend, the season would have to start Thursday, March 18 and end Saturday, June 26. That’s not including around a three-week preparation in February.

Practice fields? Who knows what shape they’ll be in that time of the year?

“For school’s like us, our practice field is garbage anyway,” Columbiana football coach Bob Spaite said. “Ninety percent of the places, your practice field is beat up. Mine is a swamp by the end of the year. There’s times in late October that it’s almost unusable. There’s times in the spring I can’t even get on it to do even any work on it, the times we’ve tried to reseed it.

“I truly don’t know what I would do.”

Flipping the varsity high school football season would be taxing enough. How about junior varsity, freshman and junior high schedules?

“I don’t think people understand what goes into this,” Spaite said.

How about those seniors heading to play college the next fall? Do they want to play high school football in the spring?

“We have a tough time in all-star games because of a lot of the really good players, colleges don’t want them playing in all-star games,” Spaite said. “I can imagine what the colleges are going to say about us having a season in the spring.

“If I have a D-I offer, I’m probably not playing.”

Don’t forget about the underclassmen.

“You’re asking our underclassmen to basically play nine consecutive months of football,” Spaite said. “You’re playing football from the end of February, even if you don’t make the tournament, you get a little bit of June off, maybe. You’re getting back in it in August again.

“That’s not good for anybody.”

Pavlansky said he and his coaches association are trying to follow the guidance of Gov. Mike DeWine, keeping coaches and players as healthy as possible.

“We’re trying to treat this as a game plan, be as prepared as possible,” Pavlansky said. “When the information comes to us, we’ve got to see where we’re at. How organized were we? How prepared were we for that information? Just like on a Friday night, that defensive back was a little faster than we thought he was. We can’t throw the ball there again. We have to go somewhere else, or whatever it may be. We have to make sure we’re prepared.

“We’re like everybody else. We’re waiting for information.”

Taking precautions. That’s what the OHSFCA wants to do heading forward to try to have a season this fall and not deal with any alternatives at this point in time.

“This has been a challenge, an ordeal for everybody,” Pavlansky said. “Nobody has been excluded. Hopefully we can get some semblance of normalcy. It comes down to everybody’s got to do their part right now. Follow what the recommendations are and get good news as what we can do.

“We want football to be in the fall.”


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