OHSAA, state start talking sports reopening protocols


By Paul Boggs - pboggs@aimmediamidwest.com



PORTSMOUTH — Jerry Snodgrass just wanted a seat for the Ohio High School Athletic Association at Ohio’s “reopening” table.

Now, after a wait of over two months, the OHSAA has joined the other proverbial diners.

That’s because, after expressing frustration about not having a representative on the advisory panel as part of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s “Responsible Restart Ohio” plan, the OHSAA has began discussions with Lt. Governor Jon Husted about Ohio high schools in regards to school-sponsored sports.

For fall sports, the OHSAA’s mandatory practice date of Aug. 1 is indeed approaching.

Husted said on Monday, during DeWine’s daily press briefing which updates the state’s response to the coronavirus threat, that he and Snodgrass —the OHSAA’s Executive Director — discussed specifically the subject of high schools earlier that morning.

The OHSAA, on April 30, extended its dead period to cover the entire month of May — in conjunction with an order invoked the day before from the Ohio Department of Health, which closed ALL school buildings in the state of Ohio until at least July 1.

That order, officially overseen by ODH Director Dr. Amy Acton, “shall remain in full force and effect until the State of Emergency declared by the Governor no longer exists, or the Director of the Ohio Department of Health rescinds or modifies this order.”

“That order did not address and did not involve school-related sporting activities,” said Husted. “We are going to begin to coordinate with them (OHSAA) on protocols for training in preparation for school-sanctioned sports. We know that this school year (2019-20) is nearing the end, but for the athletes out there, we know that training is a year-round process.”

To the surprise of Snodgrass, DeWine and Husted announced last Thursday that sports classified as “low contact” or “no contact” — including baseball, softball, tennis and golf — can resume on May 26, which coincides with the reopening date for fitness facilities and swimming pools.

In a memo to member schools the next day, Snodgrass officially lifted (to take effect on May 26) the mandatory dead period for six sports — baseball, softball, swimming and diving, track and field, tennis and golf.

However, its no-contact period remains in effect for ALL other sports — until at least thru May 31.

In that same Friday memo, Snodgrass wrote “we have continued to use every possible avenue to be involved with reopening Ohio’s sports, and while our communication has been acknowledged, we still do not have a seat at the table for the reopening”.

What a difference a weekend must have made, as Husted addressed the situation in remarks in Monday’s press briefing.

For fall sports, if the OHSAA dead period remains in effect — and if teams are unable to begin conditioning until say late July or early August — then those regular seasons surely at the minimum will be delayed.

“We know that properly trained, properly fit folks, it’s not just an important thing to excel but to lower the risk of injuries,” said Husted. “We don’t know what the schools and fall will hold at this point in time, but we do know with gyms and fitness centers that non-contact sporting activities and the training even for those that are contact, there are many ways you can do that are safe.”

Since the outset of the coronavirus threat, the OHSAA has been in near lockstep with the state’s accompanying orders.

Friday’s memo was the latest in a series of communications from and actions by the OHSAA, which included an April 20 announcement that ALL 2020 spring sports seasons were officially canceled.

That expected announcement piggybacked an hours-earlier announcement by DeWine, who declared that the state’s schools would be closed for in-person attendance for the remainder of the academic year.

DeWine’s original announcement that schools be closed came on March 12 (to take effect on March 16), as Snodgrass sent a memo to member schools the following day to officially announce the mandated no-contact period.

On Tuesday, while the OHSAA did not tweet out any information or provide an update or was even the subject discussed during DeWine’s daily briefing, the National Federation of High School Associations released guidelines for state associations to consider in reopening high school athletics and other activities.

Those can be found at https://www.nfhs.org/media/3812287/2020-nfhs-guidance-for-opening-up-high-school-athletics-and-activities-nfhs-smac-may-15_2020-final.pdf.

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By Paul Boggs

pboggs@aimmediamidwest.com

Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at pboggs@aimmediamidwest.com, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at pboggs@aimmediamidwest.com, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved