Ohio High Schools Set to Begin Fall Sports Practices on Saturday, Contact Sports Competitions Not Yet Approved

By Dan Hope on July 31, 2020 at 2:40 pm
Jack Sawyer at Pickerington North football practice

Ohio high school football practices are beginning as scheduled tomorrow.

The Ohio High School Athletics Association announced Friday that it is still planning to proceed forward with fall sports as scheduled, meaning practices will begin on Saturday – the first day of August – even though OHSAA has not yet received approval from the state to resume school vs. school competition in contact sports.

School vs. school scrimmages will not be allowed with the return to practice, but OHSAA is still targeting the traditional start of the last week of August for the first week of the high school football season, pending approval from the Governor's Office and Ohio Department of Health and with the stipulation that COVID-19 testing will not be required.

If contact sports are not approved for school vs. school competition by Sept. 4, fall contact sports (also including field hockey, soccer and cross country) and winter and spring sports would all be moved to a condensed schedule that will take place between mid-December and the end of June. Fall non-contact sports (golf, girls’ tennis and volleyball) would move forward as scheduled, and OHSAA has had conversations with state officials about also moving cross country and field hockey to that category.

If fall sports seasons begin but later have to be stopped and then are able to resume again, the OHSAA has plans to move to a modified fall sports season, per Friday's release.

“It is important to keep athletic activity moving forward,” OHSAA Board of Directors president Dan Leffingwell said in a statement. “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.

“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.”

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