CEDARVILLE, Ohio — New guidance regarding sports in the state of Ohio is on its way.
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At his press briefing last Friday, Gov. Mike DeWine said he would announce new protocols regarding professional, high school, and junior high sports the following week, and those guidelines are expected to be made public Thursday afternoon during his latest remarks. While DeWine acknowledged there are currently concerns about the viability of a fall sports season at the high school and youth levels, he also said administrators are doing everything they can to make a season safely happen.
DeWine's announcement comes weeks after the Ohio High School Athletic Association reaffirmed its plans to move forward with a fall sports season. The following day, the Ohio Health Department extended an order pertaining to the procedures for contact sports, which included a requirement for all athletes and coaches to undergo coronavirus (COVID-19) testing prior to competition.
Discussing that order at last week's briefing, Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted said that the order currently in place wasn't the one the state intended to use for the start of the fall sports season.
"There has been some confusion about this in that the renewal of the order somehow represents the plan for return to play this fall. I want you to know that's not the case," Husted said. "We are still working with the Ohio High School Athletic Association to finalize that plan and we are still considering many options.
"We're trying to keep those options open. Because we want student-athletes to return to play. We're trying to accommodate both the health and the practical considerations that must go into any decision for the athletes, coaches and fans."
Husted also revealed that the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals had submitted proposals to host fans at their home games this season. Under the state's current order, spectators aren't permitted to attend competitions for contact sports.
Several local health departments have recommended (but not ordered) against holding high school sports this fall, with North Royalton even canceling such events before reversing course this week. This week, Husted offered a different view when he lauded the merits of holding sports and extracurriculars despite the remaining threat of the virus.
"What’s the greater risk to people under age 25, canceling in-person learning & extracurriculars (sports) to protect them from COVID or leaving it to chance how they’ll fill this time?" Husted tweeted. "You can’t take these things away from young people & expect good(health, academic, life) results."