High-school ADs await governor’s ruling on testing, contact sports

Updated: Aug. 4, 2020 at 7:52 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (FOX19) - High-school athletic directors across the state are hoping Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine will rule on two key orders relating to contact sports.

The Ohio Department of Health extended a rule over the weekend that all participants of high-school contact sports must pass a COVID-19 test 72-hours prior to a game.

Contact sports include Soccer, football and field hockey. (Cross country is no longer included.)

The athletic directors hope the governor will do away with that rule.

They are also waiting for the governor to allow games in contact sports to proceed at all.

The issues are equally pressing.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association set official dates last week for the return of sports at high schools across the state. But whereas non-contact sports are assured of their seasons — that is, of scrimmages and games between competing schools — the fate of football and other contact sports pends upon final approval from DeWine and the ODH.

Additionally, OHSAA stipulated contact sports can move forward with their seasons only if COVID-19 testing “will not be required.”

Later in the same letter, OHSAA said it will adhere to requirements “as requested by the governor’s office.”

But with testing now required by ODH following its weekend order, and with DeWine saying Tuesday he wants to “wait and see” before deciding on the testing issue, high-school athletic directors are left in an awkward position.

Wyoming High School Athletic Director Jan Wilking is among them.

“We would like to move forward and play a full 16-game soccer season and a full 10-game football season,” she said.

Wilking acknowledges some schools might not get to play a game this season due to quarantines or local health department decisions. But the hope remains, she says, that high schools can work through the issue and contact sports can proceed.

“Emotionally and mentally, it is draining,” she explained. “It is draining on the coaches, and it is draining on the kids. But we will get through it. That is what sports teaches you. It is what all extra-curriculars teach you. You can persevere through things that are sometimes unfair and difficult.”

As for what’s next, Wilking says she is optimistic.

“People are doing the right things. I have said numerous times, there is no more motivated group of people to make this work than coaches, student-athletes and athletic directors. This is our chosen career because we are passionate about it and we believe this is what is best for kids.

“It is a motivated group of people, and I believe in my heart it will all work out in the end.”

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