Governor gives green light for contact sports, urges caution

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced Tuesday that he will sign a new Ohio Department of Health order that permits contact sports, including the fall sports of field hockey, soccer and football, to move forward with games against other schools. The Governor confirmed support for Ohio’s coaches to inspire their student-athletes to continue following safety precautions so that all sports can be played.
Field hockey, soccer and football now join the OHSAA’s previously approved fall sports of girls and boys golf, girls tennis, girls volleyball, and girls and boys cross country. With the majority of high schools in Ohio wanting to play sports this fall, the Ohio High School Athletic Association has been working with the Governor’s Office and the Ohio Department of Health toward a new health order that contains modifications from previous orders.
“I hope that the desire to have a season will inspire our young people, our athletes, our student-athletes, 24/7 to be as careful as they can,” said Governor DeWine during his press conference Tuesday. “I hope also that our coaches will use this as an opportunity to focus on helping these young people understand what really is at stake. If they are going to be able to play, that they are going to have to do everything they can to keep COVID out of their team.”
“The OHSAA is moving forward because we want kids to have an opportunity to participate, and the Governor’s Office is providing that opportunity and a chance,” said Bob Goldring, OHSAA Interim Executive Director. “So for that, we are most appreciative. It’s important to remember that our student-athletes have been practicing and training with others for weeks and even months, and it has gone well. So, we believe they deserve the chance to move forward, and that the high school space is also different than the collegiate space.”
The OHSAA staff has developed sport-specific modifications and recommendations for schools when conducting interscholastic competition. Links to these sport-specific documents were originally included in the July 22 memo when we released the Return to Play Recommendations document. Links to updated sport-specific requirements, modifications and recommendations are posted at:
“COVID-19 certainly has created a risk factor, and that is something on which each family has to decide for their student, and each local school district has to make decisions on moving forward based on all the information they have been presented,” Goldring continued. “But we also believe our student-athletes, coaches and school administrators – in education-based programs – are suited to be the best advocates for safety, strongly promoting and following mandates and recommendations to wear facial coverings, stay socially distanced and so forth. Our coaches, especially, are role models to so many of our student-athletes. So hopefully our student-athletes will follow their lead and guidance, especially when they talk to students about what to consider away from school.”
“The driving force that will inspire our young men, our young women, to make the right decisions in their lives 24/7 that will inspire them to have the best chance they can to play their sport,” DeWine continued. “To the coaches, you, in a normal year, inspire, you mentor, you instruct, you instill discipline and self-discipline in your student-athletes. For all of that, we are very grateful for what you do. You make a lot of sacrifices, work long hours and you inspire our kids. We thank you very much for that. But this year, it’s going to take more. It’s going to be inspiring them in regards to the goal of keeping COVID out of their team.”
The full text of Tuesday’s update memo sent to member schools is posted at:


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