OHSAA: Fall sports will go on as planned

Contact sports still waiting for approval to compete

The Ohio High School Athletic Association confirmed Friday the fall sports season will go on as planned.

The announcement was sent to school administrators by OHSAA executive director Bob Goldring and posted to the OHSAA website one day before the official start of fall practices.

“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 in the memo. “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.

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“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. 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.”

While some schools in the state, including Middletown, have suspended athletic competition, many will start practices Saturday. The Greater Western Ohio Conference announced Thursday it will proceed with the fall sports season but will play only conference games.

While golf, tennis and volleyball have been approved to compete, contact sports such as football, soccer and field hockey, as well as cross country, are awaiting approval from Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health. The OHSAA suspended scrimmages in contact sports on Tuesday.

The OHSAA announced, “If contact sports are not approved for school vs. school competition by Friday, September 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.

“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.”

Among the other details in the memo were:

• Golf teams can scrimmage once at any time during the season and start competing Aug. 5.

• Girls tennis teams can also scrimmage once after practice begins and before the first match. Those teams can start competing Aug. 7.

• Volleyball teams can scrimmage five times and participate in one preview after practice begins Aug. 1 and before the first matches, which can be held as early as Aug. 21.

• Soccer and field hockey teams can hold their first matches Aug. 21, while cross country meets can start Aug. 24.

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