The Ohio High School Athletic Association was able to take a small step closer to getting back on the athletic fields.
The OHSAA sent a memo to member schools’ superintendents, principals and athletic administrators on Friday detailing the end of a no-contact period for certain sports.
The sports of baseball, golf, softball, swimming & diving, tennis and track & field will have their no-contact period lifted on May 26.
All OHSAA sports are currently in a no-contact period between coaches and athletes because of the COVID-19 pandemic, an order that has been in place since March.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced last Thursday that certain low/non-contact sports could resume on May 26. While the announcement was mostly for non-school sports such as youth sports, travel ball or AAU, the OHSAA followed up by lifting the no-contact period for those sports.
The OHSAA did not have an announcement as of Friday as to when other sports would be able to start back up, as more orders from Gov. DeWine will be needed before sports such as football, basketball and volleyball can resume.
The memo, from OHSAA Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass, also stated that the spring sports season will remain canceled, as opposed to trying to put on a summer season.
The OHSAA postponed the spring season twice before finally canceling the entire season. The final proposed start date for competition was May 9.
“This decision was made looking at every possible option at the time,” the memo stated. “It simply is not possible to put spring sports in place for everyone at this time. We have continued to use every possible avenue to be involved with “reopening” Ohio’s sports and, while our communication has been acknowledged, we still do not have a seat at the table for the reopening.”
For the non-school leagues that do put on baseball or softball games this summer, there will be guidelines to follow. Players, coaches and spectators will have to keep a six-foot physical distance from each other when at the field. There will be no team water coolers or shared drinking stations, while coaches will have to conduct daily symptom assessments of the players.
Athletes will also have to wear face coverings when not actively playing on the field. There will be no handshake lines — a tip of the cap will do instead — and high-fives will be discouraged.
A complete list of mandatory and recommended best practices for these games can be found at coronavirus.ohio.gov.
While summer baseball and softball got a green light from the governor’s office, the OHSAA will still await the fate of its fall sports. While plenty of time remains until the official start of practices on Aug. 1, June is generally a critical month for high school basketball, with football and volleyball workouts really kicking into gear in July for most schools.