DeWine to make announcement on high school sports next week

Ohio Governor says state wants athletes to be able to compete

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine will announce Tuesday whether full-contact high school sports can start competition this fall. That would be three days before high school soccer and field hockey teams are scheduled to start games and 10 days before the first Friday night of the football season.

DeWine revealed that timeline Thursday during a press conference.

“We’ve been working with the Ohio High School Athletic Association to get it right, to provide guidelines to make it as safe as possible,” DeWine said. “I have a great deal of confidence in the coaches who are out there. In fact, we’re going to set up a call to talk to some of the coaches in the next few days. They really have an opportunity — not just in practices, not just in the games — to impress upon their athletes the importance of (social distance) and being safe. It’s also important what young people are doing when they’re not playing, when they’re at home.”

DeWine said the number of fans at high school sporting events will be restricted.

“We want the athlete to compete,” DeWine said. “We want the young people to have their season. We want to do it as safety as possible. This will be a little disruptive for some people, but we want to make sure parents, people who mean a lot to that particular child, have the opportunity to see them.”

Fall sports practices began across the state Aug. 1, though many schools across Ohio have chosen not to play this fall or have delayed the start of the season. Dayton Public Schools and Middletown High School are among the local school districts to suspend sports. Columbus City Schools suspended sports starting Friday.

The OHSAA approved a plan for a six-game season Friday. Schools and conferences started finalizing their six-game seasons early this week. The first Friday night of the football season is Aug. 28.

For weeks, coaches and administrators have been confident teams will get to play. Football, soccer and field hockey teams have been waiting for the state to approve for them to play other teams.

“What’s the greater risk to people under age 25,” Lt. Gov. Jon Husted wrote Monday on Twitter, “canceling in-person learning & extracurriculars (sports) to protect them from COVID or leaving it to chance how they’ll fill this time? You can’t take these things away from young people & expect good (health, academic, life) results.”

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