OHSAA’s no-contact period extended

Lee Woolery | Miami Valley Today file

Troy football coach Dan Gress runs drills during a practice last summer.

By Josh Brown

Miami Valley Today

COLUMBUS — Coaches and student-athletes will have to wait a little longer to work together in official practices. And they won’t have access to school facilities for longer than that.

In answer, the Ohio High School Athletic Association is planning to launch a social media campaign to encourage athletes to continue their training.

Late last week, the OHSAA sent a memo to its member schools detailing the extension of the no-contact rule through May 31 and the closure of school building and facilities until June 30. It also revealed the “how I compete” social media campaign designed to keep Ohio’s student-athletes engaged and working towards returning to the field once the threat of the COVID-19 global pandemic has sufficiently subsided.

The memo followed Director of the Ohio Department of Health Amy Acton’s order on Thursday that all school buildings and facilities — including outdoor facilities like football and soccer stadiums, tracks and baseball and softball diamonds — be closed through June 30. That order includes not only OHSAA-sanctioned sports, but also prohibits facilities being made available to non-scholastic sports teams like club or travel teams during the mandatory shut-down period.

The OHSAA’s no-contact period — which was set to expire on May 1 — was also extended through May 31. It prohibits coaches and athletes from gathering in groups or in person for official workouts, but the OHSAA has encouraged coaches to maintain contact with their players through electronic means. Coaches can even send their athletes “electronic, individual workouts, as long as those workouts can be done individually and do not promote group gatherings.”

“While this limits the ability for school coaches to directly coach their student-athletes and will also handcuff them from coaching them in non-school programs, it is a result of current restrictions and orders and puts all programs on the same level playing field,” OHSAA Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass said in the memo. “This regulation was implemented long before modern methods of communication and, while we have received many questions on what coaches can or cannot do as a result of Zoom meeting, text messages, etc., we have provided guidance that we would ask you to distribute to all your coaches.

“The intent of this regulation was to prohibit direct contact with students, not electronic methods.”

The guidance also removed references to the “10-day rule,” which limited the amount of coaching days for sports like football in June and July to 10 days — meaning that, if the no-contact period is not extended again, practices will be unlimited beginning on July 1 through August 31 for the 2020 summer practice season only.

Snodgrass also mentioned fall schedules, saying, “There are many unknowns. It is premature to release any of the many plans we have and are currently working on. However, every potential scenario is being discussed just in case so we can be prepared. Whether fall sports are delayed, played without fans, shortened — hopefully none of those — but all scenarios are being worked on just to be prepared.”

Lastly, the memo revealed a social media campaign called #HowICompete, which, according to the OHSAA’s website, will begin on Tuesday.

“With school facilities shuttered through June 30 and student-athletes not being permitted to gather together, our staff is launching the #howicompete campaign to encourage student-athletes to train on their own at home and with instructions sent electronically by their school coaches,” Snodgrass said. “This campaign will collect and promote messages and videos posted by OHSAA member schools, media and the OHSAA’s allied organizations. We are asking organizations such as the various Ohio high school coaches associations, Greater Columbus Sports Commission, Ohio Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association and many more to help encourage and promote content from student-athletes and tag the OHSAA using #howicompete. Content will be promoted through the OHSAA’s social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) on its handle, @OHSAASports.”

Contact Josh Brown at jbrown@aimmediamidwest.com.

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