DeWine Green Lights Contact Sports for Fall

COLUMBUS, Ohio — In a much-anticipated decision, Gov. Mike DeWine today announced that all high school sports can be played this fall, including football.

While the games can go forward, the only spectators that will be allowed in the stadiums will be family and other people close to the athletes and members of the marching bands. The decision as to who will be let in will be up to the schools.

“It’s important that young people have someone there to support them,” DeWine said.

During his coronavirus briefing, DeWine made it clear that playing contact sports amid the coronavirus pandemic is a risk and the athletes, coaches, schools and their communities must do what is necessary to keep COVID-19 away from their teams.

He expressed the hope that “the desire to have a season will inspire our young people, and student athletes, to be as careful as they can 24/7.”

Ohio’s daily reported case numbers have dropped in recent days, and are well below the seven-day average of slightly above 1,000 confirmed cases, he reported. However, the governor said rates are climbing now in several rural counties.

DeWine’s decision comes as practice is underway at some schools. Others, mainly in urban areas, have already announced that they will not play this fall.

DeWine also gave schools that want to move their football season to the spring the go-ahead to do that.

“We all know the importance of sports,” DeWine said. “It provides discipline, order and structure in the lives of student athletes … and joy to their families.”

Lt. Gov. John Husted said, “When we first started working on this, coaches and student athletes said ‘give us a chance’ and you now have that chance, but it depends on how well you execute the game plan.”

Details of the state’s guidance on measures to thwart the spread of the virus during practice and games will be spelled out in an order that the governor’s office will soon release.

In closing his press conference, the governor said that this fall, “sports will be measured in wins and losses and all the things we measure sports by, but also by how well we keep COVID away.”

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.