• Ohio

Winter is coming soon: OHSAA tells member schools it won’t alter scheduled start for winter sports

By: MATTHEW B. MOWERY, November 20, 2020, 9:21 am

Winter is coming — exactly when you thought it would be. 

After discussing the issue with Gov. Mike DeWine’s office, as well as a survey of member institutions, the Ohio High School Athletic Association reaffirmed its intent to start the winter athletic seasons as scheduled in a Wednesday memo to member schools. 

Individual school districts can still pause sports at any time, but the OHSAA — which announced the decision in a Friday news release — maintained it will not alter the statewide start dates for the winter season.

“Though we are seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases in Ohio, the majority of our member schools want the opportunity to move forward with winter sports as planned,” said OHSAA executive director Doug Ute in a news release on Friday. “As always, the decision to play sports is a local school decision and there will certainly be schools that pause sports for periods of time in the months to come, but if the majority of our schools want to move forward, then we want to provide that opportunity. As we have said previously, our member schools provide our student-athletes with the safest possible environment to participate. If we were to delay, students would find opportunities to compete in sports through non-school programs that may not be focused on safety and are not education-based.”

Bowling was the first slated to begin, on Nov. 13, followed by ice hockey, girls basketball and swimming and diving on Friday, boys basketball on Nov. 25, wrestling on Dec. 3, and finally gymnastics on Dec. 7.

The survey sent to school administrators garnered 1,464 responses with 56 percent of those (826) in favor of beginning the winter sports on time, while 33 percent favored a delay until after the first of the year — as is the likely plan in Michigan — and 11 percent an indefinite pause until COVID-19 conditions approve. 

The OHSAA noted that Gov. DeWine’s 10 p.m. curfew did not mean that athletes and spectators needed to be home by that time, rather that all venues needed to be cleared by that point. The association encouraged schools and conferences to move up their start times to ensure that buildings could be cleared by 10 p.m.