Prep football, soccer seem to see light in Ohio

COLUMBUS – There seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel for fall ‘contact’ sports of football and soccer in Ohio.

And it’s not that of an oncoming train.

During his Thursday afternoon media briefing, Gov. Mike DeWine announced that he and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted would announce their formal plans and directives for contact sports on Tuesday.

He then expanded on that and tipped his hand that the clearance of those sports is imminent by saying, “the decision is going to be left up to the school districts and families.” He also said that crowds will be restricted at prep sporting events.

On the forefront, that sounds as if he will sign off on the resumption of contact sports teams to compete against other schools. However, a school district and/or a county health department has the option to shutter a team or not sponsor the sport. The decision being left to the families makes it seem that if a student-athlete’s parents don’t deem it safe to compete, the player doesn’t have to play the sport.

“School officials, parents and local health departments all enter into play (in this decision),” DeWine said.

As Ohio had an increase of nearly 1,200 more cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and still remains under a mask order, DeWine made sure to stress that community spread is still an important factor, especially in the areas that are experiencing an uptick in cases and have increased to an ‘Orange’ or ‘Red’ level on the state’s COVID-19 emergency chart.

“The ability of that school to stay open and the ability of your children to play sports is directly dependent on what is going on in the community,” DeWine stressed. “We all just need to be in this together. We want the kids to have the experience, but it won’t last unless we slow this coronavirus down, and it’s not just the counties on high, high alert.”

Should DeWine give final clearance on Tuesday and the current Ohio Department of Health order that requires COVID-19 testing be lifted, it’s not inconceivable that football teams could squeeze in a scrimmage prior to the opening week, which is slated for Aug. 27-29.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association has been in constant communication with the governor’s office and team, working to get a resolution that would permit teams to move forward. A week ago, the OHSAA announced it was trimming the football season to six games and then beginning the postseason. Teams that elect not to play in the tournament or lose early in the event can resume regular-season play.

Soccer, meanwhile, is actually scheduled to begin its season one week from today, which would allow schools that are taking part in the ‘Friday Night Futbol’ events around the Buckeye State to maintain those events.

Golf and girls tennis are both ongoing. Volleyball is slated to officially begin one week from today and cross country can begin competing on Aug. 25.


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