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OHSAA gives fall sports the green light

COLUMBUS — The Ohio High School Athletic Association told schools Friday to go ahead with the fall sports season, but is making contingency plans due to the coronavirus pandemic — including moving some fall sports to 2021 with a condensed schedule.

The OHSAA’s fall sports of football, volleyball, boys and girls soccer, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls golf, girls tennis and girls field hockey officially begin practice today.

On Friday, the OHSAA Board of Directors reaffirmed their position that the OHSAA fall sports seasons will go forward as planned.

While all fall sports can practice, contests between schools in the sports of golf, tennis and volleyball have been approved by Gov. Mike DeWine. The OHSAA continues to work with the governor’s office toward approval of contests in cross country, field hockey, soccer and football.

“It is important to keep athletic activity moving forward,” said Dan Leffingwell, president of the OHSAA Board of Directors and superintendent of the Noble Local Schools in Sarahsville. “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.”

Earlier this week, the OHSAA suspended scrimmages in the four fall contact sports that have not yet been approved by the Governor for school vs. school competition — football, soccer, cross country and field hockey.

“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 board of directors also said:

• If contact sports are not approved for school vs. school competition by Sept. 4, fall contact sports and remaining winter and spring sports will move to a condensed schedule that will take place between mid-December and the end of June. Fall non-contact sports would move forward as scheduled.

• If the fall seasons begin and, for some reason, are stopped but then resume, the OHSAA has plans to move to a modified fall sports season.

• If contact sports are approved for school vs. school competition, the OHSAA is prepared to set COVID-19 requirements for schools to follow for competitions as requested by the governor’s office. The OHSAA will govern and issue consequences for the violation of these requirements as prescribed in OHSAA Bylaw 11, penalties.

• Conversations with the governor’s office/Ohio Department of Health continue regarding the status of field hockey and/or cross country being placed into the low/non-contact category. Member schools will be updated if that changes for either or both sports.

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