The Ohio High School Athletic Association released an update sent to its member schools on the status of the delayed spring sports season, giving a potential timeline for a shortened season should the state’s schools reopen in May.
Of course, the entire plan remains contingent on the schools reopening. Ohio’s schools have been closed since March 13 after Ohio Governor Mike DeWine ordered them closed and then put a “stay at home” order in place to help slow the spread of the global pandemic caused by the coronavirus, COVID-19.
The schools were scheduled to reopen at the start of April, but that date got pushed back and they will remain closed until at least May 1, with the governor’s office reassessing as that date gets closer. Thursday afternoon, Pennsylvania closed its schools for the rest of the year, joining Ohio’s neighbors Indiana and Michigan. DeWine has stated on several occasions he thinks it’s possible he’ll extend Ohio’s closure for the rest of the academic year.
With schools being closed, sports have been put on indefinite hold until they reopen. The OHSAA postponed and then cancelled its winter sports postseason tournaments, and then it delayed the beginning of spring sports indefinitely.
“If schools are closed for the remainder of the school year, spring sports will be cancelled in Ohio,” OHSAA Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass said in the release.
But with the schools set to reopen on May 4 – and Ohio’s head start on measures to combat the pandemic seeming to be starting to show positive effects – there might be hope for the shortened spring season.
“We are continuing with the governor’s optimistic direction that schools will reopen on May 4,” Snodgrass said. “The dates for a spring season/tournaments are tentative. We will adjust accordingly. However optimistic this may be, we must plan for the return even if that ends up changing.”
There will be an acclimation period from May 4-8 for all of spring’s sports, with the regular seasons all beginning on May 9. And with some sports’ seasons ending a week after the state tournaments, the potential exists for regular season games to be played later than the state tournament.
For baseball, the postseason tournament draw will be held on May 17, with the sectional tournaments running from May 23-30. The district tournaments will be from June 1-6, the regional tournaments will be held on June 11 and 12, and the state tournament will be held from June 19-21. The baseball season will officially end on June 27.
For softball, the tournament draw will be on May 24, the sectional tournaments will be from May 30-June 6, the districts from June 8-13, regionals from June 15-20 and state from June 25-27, with the season ending on July 4.
For boys tennis, the tournament draw will be May 24, the sectional tournaments from May 30-June 6, the districts from June 8-13 and state from June 18-20, with the season ending on June 27.
For track and field, the tournament draw will be on May 31, the district tournaments from June 9-13, the regionals from June 17-20 and state on June 26 and 27, with the season ending on June 27.
The release also said that the no-contact period remains in place until May 1, with no practices or group workouts allowed. However, coaches can still contact individual players by electronic means to keep players engaged and provide workouts.
“Specific information relative to sectional and district tournaments, playing dates, seeding procedures, game sites, will all be provided in communications from the respective six district athletic boards,” Snodgrass said. “If for any reason specific sites are shut down due to governor’s orders, all sites will be shut down and a tournament will not be held.
“We continue to applaud each of you for helping provide guidance and leadership to your coaches and your efforts to keep students engaged. The crisis has heightened the awareness that students want to be back in the classroom. Teachers want students back in the classroom. In our solid belief that school-based athletic programs are an extension of the classroom, we hold that same belief for our student-athletes and coaches. Getting kids back with coaches is much more than winning, and we feel it a vital part of returning life to normalcy.”