By YANEEK SMITH, BEACON CONTRIBUTOR
There have already been a number of measures taken in the collegiate ranks to move the fall football season, or the entire slate of fall sports, to the spring or postpone them indefinitely because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A few weeks ago, the Ivy League became the first conference to cancel fall sports. Football could be played in the spring, but that’s undecided at this point.
Shortly thereafter, the Big Ten Conference announced that it would have a conference-only season for its fall sports. The Pac-12 Conference followed suit and is constructing a schedule of only interleague games. The Ohio Athletic Conference, which has 10 Division III schools, will not have sports until Jan. 1 at the earliest.
Changes are being made in high school, too.
The CEO for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Eric Gordon, said the members of the Senate Athletic League will not compete in fall sports because those schools will have remote learning for the first nine weeks. Summit County Public Health officials, meanwhile, are recommending schools delay high school sports competitions until Oct. 1. If implemented, those schools would miss the first six weeks of the football season.
Despite all of that, football practice for other high schools begins on Saturday, unless things change.
Count Port Clinton football coach Beau Carmon among those who wouldn’t mind seeing football played in the spring, if that’s the only option. Last Saturday, he replied to a tweet by WTOL 11 sports director Jordan Strack that talked about football coaches in northeast Ohio who are open to the idea of flipping fall and spring sports.
Carmon tweeted, “I support this. We need a season whenever we can have it.”
He expanded on his thoughts.
“I will do anything to play a football season, even if it means not playing in the fall. I’d play in the winter if we have to,” said Carmon. “I’m not the only coach in Northwest Ohio who feels this way. I can think of quite a few coaches who feel this way and are more than willing to make the switch to spring.
“I haven’t had any backlash. Everybody wants to do right by the players. They put so much into preparation. Your whole life, the athletes prepare for this.”
But Carmon understands that the paramount issue is safety.
“We are being as safe as possible. We’re working with our athletic director (Rick Dominick), superintendent (Pat Adkins), the county and we’re taking precautions. Safety is our No. 1 priority, that has to supersede over anything,” said Carmon. “It all goes back to safety. I’m a big believer in wearing your mask and social distancing.”
This past season, the Ohio High School Athletic Association had to cancel the postseason tournaments for winter sports and the entire spring sports season.
Carmon is conscious of the fact that there are other sports facing this difficult predicament.
“I think everybody deserves to play, not just football. I’m sure the No. 1 thing is we can’t lose baseball, track, softball, tennis — you can’t miss them two years in a row. That would be horrible. Here’s what I do know: Baseball has been playing in the summer without a hitch, and I don’t see why you wouldn’t want to continue that in the fall. I think everybody deserves to play, but I’m a football coach, not a baseball coach.
“As much as I want every sport to play, I want to look at football,” he said. “All student-athletes deserve to play, not just football, and most of our football players are multi-sport athletes — they do play basketball or swim or wrestle in the winter. It’s not about spring football, it’s about looking at every option, that’s really what it comes down to.
“I think (playing in) the spring is an option. We’ll see.”
Recently, the Redskins chose to shut down all sports-related activities for two weeks before returning to action. Adkins said that the school is following the directions of the Ottawa County Health Department.
Another problem lies with how each county deals with this crisis. Certain counties, like Allen County, where Lima is located, are on the Level 3 watchlist and could be moved to Level 4. Eight counties, including Erie, were recently moved to Level 3. It should be noted that Erie County is home to six Sandusky Bay Conference schools — Sandusky, Margaretta, Perkins, Huron, Edison and Vermilion.
As of July 23, a total of 80,186 cases were reported in Ohio since the pandemic began, leading to 3,256 deaths and 9,986 hospitalizations.
Port Clinton is scheduled to start the regular season on Aug. 28 in Bellevue. They are supposed to host Perkins in a scrimmage on Aug. 21.