OHSAA director ‘optimistic’ about prospect of high school football in Ohio this fall

Although the calendar says May, the fall is already on the minds of many athletes and fans in Ohio.

More specifically: Will there be high school football in 2020?

No one had to tell OHSAA executive director Jerry Snodgrass even before he appeared on the virtual Morning Sports Report put on by the Greater Columbus Sports Commission.

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“That is a question that is just burning for everyone,” he said. “So I want to preface it by saying no one wants it back more than we do.”

All OHSAA spring sports were canceled, as were winter championships including basketball, ice hockey and wrestling, because of the threat of the coronavirus, but athletes will be able to work out with coaches again May 26.

That is an important first step toward the return of actual games, but what types of gatherings are allowed by August remains to be seen.

“Friday night football for communities, it brings people together,” Snodgrass said. “The people want it back, so how confident am I? I would tell you the next couple of weeks are really going to answer that for me. Because I think personally and it’s an opinion but what happens in the next couple of weeks as we reopen Ohio responsibly, and I stress that responsibly, is really going to determine what happens in the fall.”

While acknowledging school-age people are at a lower risk of catching the coronavirus (per statistics), he pointed out others involved with sports such as officials and fans also have to be taken into consideration.

“It’s gonna depend on the next couple of weeks,” he reiterated. “I’m an eternal optimist, and if you ask me right now I do believe we go forward in a normal routine with football – with some safeguards – and with attendance and so on and so forth. That’s the eternal optimist in me, but I have to stress we are prepared if we can’t.”

His emphasis on seeing how the reopening goes echoed statements from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.

“So much is going to depend on what each of us do individually and collectively to keep it from spreading,” he said in an interview with this newspaper May 7. “That’s it. If things stay as they are now, and as they are now is (the virus) is still here, it’s still dangerous, but it’s not overwhelming our hospitals and it’s not picking up dramatically, so it’s still very lethal. If you’ve got a health problem, you better be extra careful. If you’re over 60, certainly over 70, your fatality rate goes up dramatically if you get it.

>>READ MORE: DeWine on where sports fit in the re-opening of the state

“Our ability to continue practicing social distancing and continue preventing this virus from spreading will determine what this summer is going to look like,” he said. “That’s the summary. We want to be prepared. We want to give people the guidelines of how we intend to do it, but we can’t go back to normal. If we go back to normal, this thing will take off like a wildfire and it’s just not going to work.”

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