OHSAA

With cancelations and postponements happening in all walks of life, OHSAA Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass didn’t add to that list on Thursday, but cautioned that it was certainly on the table.

Snodgrass addressed a small contingent of media on Thursday afternoon inside the Ohio High School Athletic Association offices to provide an update on the high school sports scene.

In short, nothing has immediately changed from a week ago, when remaining winter sports tournaments were indefinitely postponed and spring sports delayed due to the COVID-19 virus.

Snodgrass said all possibilities have been discussed, but the possibility of completing the winter seasons are becoming more challenging.

“All decisions are not going to be made upon emotion,” Snodgrass said. “We take them into consideration and we understand them, but we have to make the best judgment we can make based upon fighting that war (on COVID-19), as the Governor (Mike DeWine) has indicated.”

The girls’ basketball state tournament was minutes away from tipping off last week when the postponements came down. The state wrestling tournament was also originally scheduled for last weekend, both of those events to be held in Columbus.

The boys’ basketball tournaments were at the regional tournament stage, as their state tournament would have been held this weekend at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus.

Snodgrass admitted that the window for still playing the tournaments is closing, however.

“We still remain that they are on an indefinite postponement,” he said. “We do that for a simple reason. While again the window is closing, we realize that there are so many other factors that people do not realize — site availably, coach’s availability. Keeping in mind our officials, there are people that are in the risk category that we can not and will not subject to being faced with being infected by this virus. There are many factors with this.”

Athens’ Trey Finnearty, Alexander’s Wes Radford and Griffin Chmiel and Trimble’s Ian Joyce and Tabor Lackey were set to compete on the state wrestling mats last weekend.

The size of the state wrestling tournament presents a unique set of circumstances that make it difficult to reschedule. There are 300 schools represented and more than 600 wrestlers who take part in the event, not including coaches, officials, trainers and other essential people needed to successfully put on the tournament.

Snodgrass also noted that keeping weight for a long period of time is another factor.

“Asking them to maintain that (weight) during this time when they really technically have no workout facilities,” Snodgrass said.

Snodgrass did say that either all of the winter tournaments would be played, or none would. He didn’t see a scenario were one state tournament would be completed without all being finished.

“They most likely all would be canceled. I highly doubt we would play one without the other,” he said.

The spring sports season was officially delayed last week as well. Baseball, softball and track and field teams could start practicing again on April 6, with events beginning on April 11. In the meantime, schools were shut down to any athletic gatherings, including practices for spring sports or organized workouts for out-of-season sports. This lined up with Gov. DeWine’s decision to close schools for three weeks.

Snodgrass said the no-contact period was put into place to encourage social distancing.

“We did that more than anything else,” he said. “But again we also tried to understand the importance of a coach and the mental well being of our student athletes. As a result of that, we are encouraging giving them workouts via phone, via teleconference, Skype, FaceTiming, whatever it might be.”

The fate of all remaining high school sports will likely rest on whether or not schools open again, or are shut down for the year by Gov. DeWine. A total shutdown of academics for the year would likely spell the end of any hope for winter or spring sports being completed. If schools open back up, but open after April 6, then the start of the spring season could again be adjusted.

“What will change that over night will be any decision by the governor to extend the closure of schools,” Snodgrass said. “And again, it does’t mean at this point with spring sports that we are canceling, but is canceling on the table? It absolute has to be on the table.”

The potential loss of the winter state tournaments would have a large financial impact on the OHSAA as well, as 80 percent of the organizations revenue comes from ticket sales. {/span}

“Our best first estimates are that we will lose in the neighborhood of 1.4 to 1.5 million dollars just on revenue from the tournaments of the winter sports. That’s out of a 19 million dollar total budget,” Snodgrass said.

While Snodgrass also said that member schools will be consulted as the OHSAA continues to navigate what the future holds for high school athletics.

“We will consult with our member schools first before we make any public decisions about whether we cancel or extend postponements,” he said.

Email at kwiseman@athensmessenger.com; follow on Twitter @KevinWmessenger

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