BY YANEEK SMITH
Collegiate and professional sports have been turned upside down because of the coronavirus. And high school sports saw the spring sports season cancelled in addition to winter sports not being able to finish its season.
The question begs, is there hope for fall sports?
Three local athletic directors provided their thoughts on the matter and gauge what could be in store for fall sports.
Question: What are some concerns you have about the fall sports season?
Answer: Dan Hoover (Oak Harbor): At this point, trying to keep our kids safe, as well as the fans (is the primary goal). We’re trying to keep them as safe as possible while still having a semblance of regular sports. We’ve been working on developing some plans for the school, (with) plans for 50% capacity for the stadium or the gym, or however that might look. We’re trying to make that work.
The concern is to prevent any outbreak at the same time, and there’s a concern if someone from a school ends up testing positive, will that shut down the team for weeks? And then we may not have games.
Rick Dominick (Port Clinton): I think the biggest concern I have for all of our sports for 2020-21 are all of the “unknowns.” Will we start on time? Will we be interrupted? Will we be able to have fans (attend the events)? We are less than one month away from the start of fall sports and while I am optimistic about starting on time, the upward trend of those testing positive for Covid-19 is very concerning.
Keith Mora (Danbury): Currently, my biggest concern is, are we training to start on time? Or be delayed to September? Or are we training for an inevitable closing? The governor’s directives that came out made some coaches and athletic directors feel a little uneasy because it was a pretty restrictive plan.
Q: What has the OHSAA been saying about the measures the schools ought to be taking to protect the players and coaches?
A: Hoover: (OHSAA executive director) Jerry Snodgrass has been really good and is working really hard at keeping us as up-to-date as possible. (The governor) had a three-phase plan to begin with when we were able to start (opening up again). Every two weeks, you could open things up a little more. We started ours on June 1 and worked our way in each of two weeks. We’ve been getting some direction, we’re still looking for more. (Gov. Mike DeWine) said he wants kids in school if at all possible, hopefully that will open us up for sports as well.”
Dominick: The OHSAA provided all schools with a recommended phased program to follow for all sports and have instructed us to follow all Responsible Restart Ohio. The OHSAA has essentially told us to proceed as if we will be starting on time on Aug. 1 for fall sports official practices and also to plan on games, matches and meets. The OHSAA will be providing us with direction on managing fan attendance as we get closer to the start of competition.
Mora: The governor’s office decides something and lets us know. We’re usually hearing things a day or two before it becomes public. When (the governor’s office) opened up contact sports (on June 22), they told us we could do intrasquad competing.
Q: Will we have a fall sports season this year?
A: Mora: I think so, unless some kind of major shift takes place at the pro or collegiate level. People see the value in the kids doing things to make them feel normal and just having that team camaraderie. I think it’s important for kids. I think there’s a lot of development in a child with athletics. In terms of the sport happening, I think we’re going to start on time.
This is just so crazy for all of us. It’s so reactionary right now. It’s just us waiting to hear information. It’s just waiting to find out the next bit of information.
Hoover: I was real confident up till about two weeks ago before we hit the spike (in the virus). We’re opening up school buildings, so we should be able to get sports back to 100%. I’m hopeful that they’re going to go ahead and allow sports as well. Opening up things like Cedar Point, that makes me a little more hopeful that we’ll have sports.
We’ve been on the cautious side, not letting a lot of people in the building. Now we’ve let people in the athletic part (of the building), but not the school part. Our custodians do a great job of cleaning the facilities. It’s gone pretty well. I’m confident that we’re keeping our kids as safe as possible.
Dominick: I remain optimistic that we will have fall sports and we will start on time based on signals we are getting from the OHSAA and the governor. That said, as I mentioned at the outset, the trend of positive Covid-19 tests remains very disconcerting.”
In a surprise move on Monday, OHSSA Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass was replaced after two years by Bob Goldring. The OHSSA board of directors said they felt it was necessary to go in a different leadership direction, reported The Toledo Blade.