Gov. Mike DeWine Approves Ohio’s Plan to Move Forward with High School Sports Season

By Zack Carpenter on August 18, 2020 at 3:03 pm
Jayden Ballard

Ohio State will not be playing football this fall, but Ohio high schools will.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced that the state is moving forward with all high school sports – contact and non-contact sports – in the fall of 2020.

DeWine said that him and his staff have spoken with athletes, parents, coaches, medical health experts, superintendents and others to evaluate whether or not a season should go forward, and on Tuesday the decision became official that the state will allow all sports – including youth and middle school sports – to be conducted in the fall.

No spectators other than family members or people who are close to the athlete will be allowed as fans at the games. DeWine said they will leave that up to the school to determine which family members and other “close” relatives are allowed into the games.

The decision on whether or not to play fall sports is now going to fall in the hands of the individual high schools, athletes, parents and coaches. That includes a decision on whether or not masks will be required for players during practices and games, or for coaches to wear them on the sidelines.

"This is really the best guidance that can be provided by the medical health experts," DeWine said. "It's really about how we can provide the best advice on how sports in Ohio can be conducted.

“Just as going back to school in person increases the risks, sports – and especially contact sports – does as well. The more spread there is in community and the school, the higher the risk is in the community. On the other hand, we know the importance of sports. Sports matters and makes a difference. ... If that young person is not playing sports, they will be doing something else with their time, and that needs to be taken into account as well.”

Ohio State football's team physician – Dr. James Borchers of Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center – was one of the main medical health experts who the state sought advice from. Borchers spoke during DeWine's press conference as DeWine asked him several questions about the overall health effects and heart health effects of COVID-19. 

Borchers said that any one who has tested positive for COVID-19 needs to meet with their healthcare provider to make sure they are fully aware of how it has affected their overall health and especially their heart health, as the virus has been found to cause inflammation of the heart in a condition called myocarditis. 

When discussing myocarditis, Borchers said “Not that we need to be overly scared of this complication, but we need to be aware of it."

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted also spoke during the press conference regarding the state's decision:

With the exception of Jack Sawyer – who opted out of his senior season at Pickerington North – this means that five 2021 commits (Jayden Ballard, Mike Hall, Reid Carrico, Ben Christman and Jaylen Johnson) and four 2022 commits (Gabe Powers, Jyaire Brown, C.J. Hicks and Tegra Tshabola) within the Buckeye State's borders will be moving forward with a season in the fall of 2020, assuming that each player's schools opt to hold a season.

For those nine players, and all other Ohio football players who will opt in this season, there will be some major changes to the season, as the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association proposed a number of changes to the season.

And the Ohio High School Athletic Association announced earlier this month that the state will hold a shortened season with a six-game regular season in which all programs are eligible for the playoffs regardless of record.

“I hope that the desire to have a season will inspire our student-athletes to be as careful as they can 24/7,” DeWine said. “I hope our coaches will use this as an opportunity to focus on helping these young people understand what really is at stake and that if they're going to be able to play that they're gonna have to do whatever they can to keep COVID out of their team.”

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