Football teams and other contact sports are closer to being able to conduct normal summer activities.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association announced in a memo sent to member schools late last week that contact sports like football and basketball can conduct normal practices and other intrasquad activities. Those sports previously weren’t allowed to conduct full-contact practices and were limited to weight and skill training.
The announcement comes as the state government has implemented the second phase of its plan to gradually allow organized sporting events to resume activities following restrictions put in place in March to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced Thursday that all sports could resume contact training during practices as well as intrasquad scrimmages beginning Monday. Any activities involving other teams are still prohibited — rendering things like 7-on-7 passing scrimmages for football and basketball shootouts impossible.
The OHSAA, which is a part of the advisory group Gov. Mike DeWine has put together for its “Responsible Restart” program for sports, followed with a memo on Friday outlining details for its members on phase two.
In addition to contact sports being allowed to conduct full practices, non- and low-contact sports like baseball and softball can continue competitions, which were allowed beginning May 26 under phase one of the state government’s plan. Spectators are also permitted at both full-contact sports practices and low-contact games but must follow current social distancing restrictions, including staying six feet from others.
OHSAA executive director Jerry Snodgrass emphasized phase two allows for intrasquad practices and competitions.
“In the context of the Governor’s orders, ‘scrimmage’ refers to games/competitions being played only with members attending your ‘open gym’ or ‘workout.’ Competitions between different schools or communities is NOT (sic) permitted at any time during Phase 2 for contact sports,” Snodgrass said. “While many of us have received communications from different venues/colleges announcing ‘team camps,’ there is still no date announced by the Governor in which these would be permitted. Under Phase 2 restrictions, they currently are not permitted.”
Teams are normally allowed 10 days for offseason practices during summer but the OHSAA waived that rule earlier this year. All sports teams can have unlimited practices in July before fall sports practices begin.
The memo also states “daily assessments of participants must still occur as previously required, ‘spectators’ (parents, others) are permitted but must follow restrictions that include social distancing, and athletic trainers have restrictions identified that include wearing facemasks when treating an individual.”
Local health departments “continue to be given control/oversight of schools and facilities within their jurisdiction. They retain the right to restrict permissions in Phase 2.”
Social distancing guidelines still apply to players and coaches.
“While there is no restriction on the number permitted to attend open gyms/fields/facilities, any individuals not participating in intra-team play or skill sessions must remain socially distanced,” Snodgrass wrote. “For example, if you have 20 individuals playing in two open gym cross-court games, any remaining individuals must remain socially distanced when not playing. Consider strongly limiting attendance for this reason.”
Among the recommendations Snodgrass wrote were “consider assigning oversight to one staff member to comply with all mandated and recommended restrictions and consider posting signage at your facilities emphasizing the health and safety restrictions for the events in your various facilities.”
Snodgrass wrote that “while ‘Phase 3’ appears as the inevitable next step, there has been NO (sic) suggestion or indication of what the date for launching ‘Phase 3’ would be.”
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.