COLUMBUS — The Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) provided clarification this week about the question of whether spectators will be allowed to attend high school athletic events.
During his press conference on Tuesday, Gov. Mike DeWine announced that after consulting with athletic directors, he was recommending that no fans be allowed to attend games until the new year.
“Some schools have suspended winter sports until January,” DeWine said. “For those that have not suspended sports, we would ask you when you conduct winter sports — basketball games, whatever — to do so without fans. This is another opportunity for us just to pull back. It allows our student-athletes to continue to play, which as a parent or grandparent is the most important thing. As much as we would like to see them play, as one superintendent told me today, the idea of bringing 200 adults into our gym is, at this point during the pandemic with the spread that we’re seeing, just makes absolutely no sense. So we would ask schools to do that between now and the first of the year.”
Not long after the governor’s press conference ended, OHSAA Executive Director Doug Ute issued a press release in conjunction with the governor’s office recommending “that schools restrict attendance to only the parents of the participants, or eliminate all spectators, for their winter sports competitions through December 31, 2020, due to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases.”
“We want to follow this recommendation so that our kids can continue to compete,” Ute said. “We believe it is crucial that parents be permitted to attend the contests of their children, but large crowds at our indoor athletic contests are not a good idea at this time. We all need to work together to give our kids and schools the best chance at having a full winter season.”
According to the OHSAA press release, schools will determine the process for how parents will attend athletic contests, such as how many are permitted, and where they will be placed to watch the contest.
Additionally, regarding media coverage, the OHSAA is requesting that schools permit media coverage of their contests, but the number of media attending should be restricted to those who regularly cover the teams involved. Schools are encouraged to provide live video streaming of their athletic contests for those who cannot attend.
Also in the press release, the OHSAA noted that “there is no prohibition on cheerleaders and pep bands, but schools should make their own decisions on these students’ participation and should strongly consider not sending cheerleaders to away contests.”