Return to play: Ohio and Pennsylvania governors under pressure to grant reprieves

High school sports -- particularly football -- in a huge deal in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, and state high school associations are pushing back from restrictions that threaten to wipe out or force the postponements of fall seasons, including boys and girls soccer in both states.

At a press briefing on Friday,  Ohio Governor Mike DeWine admitted that sports-related issues have been a hot topic at his office since an Aug. 1 order from the Department of Health requiring those who participate in contact sports -- athletes and coaches -- receive a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours prior to the start of a game.

Lawsuits have been filed across Ohio over plans to restart schools with online teaching, and a Warren County judge granted a preliminary injunction (backed by operators of local sports complexes) against the Department of Health from treating contact sports differently from non-contact sports.

Practice opened for high school sports last Saturday, but everyone is waiting for DeWine's guidance next week to determine when they can begin. (DeWine will also have to decide whether to allow pro teams like FC Cincinnati and the Columbus Crew to admit fans.)

As a compromise, the Ohio High School Athletic Association announced on Friday a plan to cut the 2020 regular-season schedule for football to six games and finish the playoffs -- open to all teams -- before Nov. 21.

DeWine, who tested positive, then negative, for COVID-19 on Thursday, said he believed that schools were doing everything they can to protect students, but a key issue was to make sure students were careful when they leave school.

In Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf has recommended that youth sports (pre-kindergarten through 12th grade) be called off until at least Jan. 1, 2021, threatening high school sports. On Friday, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association announced it would delay the start of fall practice while it sought to get Wolf to change his position.

In a statement, the PIAA said Wolf's "strong recommendation" to delay sports "has a potential negative impact on the students' physical, social, emotional, and mental health" and argued that school plans for sports provided a reasonably safe environment for students as long as there was strict adherence to them.

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Aug. 6.  The Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association's board of directors voted 15-0 with one abstention to postpone fall sports in Delaware and adopt a schedule similar to what has been adopted elsewhere with the fall sports moving to a slot between winter and spring sports. Boys soccer is a fall sport and girls soccer is a spring sport in Delaware.

Aug. 5. The Oregon School Activities Association became the latest high school association to shut down fall sports in Oregon when its executive board voted Wednesday to move fall sports, including boys and girls soccer, to a March start.

The new schedule follows that of other states shifting seasons: high school sports will be jammed into six months:  winter sports in January and February, fall sports in March and April and spring sports in May and June.

School districts are free to play sports in the fall if they meet state guidelines for re-openings. Most Oregon schools will likely continue with online programs to start the school year.

Aug. 4. Colorado became the fifth state to shift fall high school soccer (boys) and modify its entire sports schedule.

Boys soccer is one of six fall sports moved into "Season C" with a two-month window. The boys season -- 10 games maximum -- will begin with practice on March 1, games on March 4 and conclude with championships by May 1.

Normally, a spring sport in Colorado, girls soccer -- also 10 games maximum -- will be played later in the spring, beginning with practice on April 26 and games on April 29.

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Minnesota will keep soccer and three other sports -- cross country, swimming and diving and tennis -- as fall sports but move football and girls volleyball to the spring.

The soccer season is set to begin with practice opening on Aug. 17. Competition will be limited to conference or district matches.

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Aug. 3. The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association is postponing fall and winter sports seasons during the first semester in Maryland. The move follows the recent announcements of local school systems to begin education virtually and allows them to gradually increase activities. Dates for the spring have not yet been announced.

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Three states -- Illinois (boys), Nevada (boys and girls), New Mexico (boys and girls) -- and the District of Columbia (boys and girls) previously moved fall soccer to the spring as a result of changes to the fall sports season in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

California, Virginia (football) and Washington also moved fall sports to the spring. None offers soccer in the fall.

Of the 51 states and the District of Columbia, 41 offer boys and girls soccer in the same season -- fall, winter or spring. Ten states split the soccer seasons with all but Tennessee offering boys soccer in the fall and girls soccer in the spring.

High School fall soccer plans (by state):
Update: Colorado-boys (season moved to spring -- practice allowed on March 1; season starts on March 4). (CHSAA)
Connecticut-boys & girls (practice of 15 cohorts allowed on Aug. 27, full practice allowed on Sept. 11; season starts on Sept. 24) (CIAC)
Update: Delaware-boys (season moved to spring -- practice allowed on Feb. 19; season starts on March 12) (DIAA)
Idaho-boys & girls (practice allowed on Aug. 10; season starts after 10 days of practice). (IHSAA)
Illinois-boys (season moved to spring -- season starts on Feb. 13). (IHSA)
Indiana-boys & girls (practice allowed on Aug. 3; season starts on Aug. 15). (IHSAA)
Kansas-boys (practice allowed on Aug. 17; season starts on Aug. 28). (KSHSAA)
Kentucky-boys & girls (practice allowed on Aug. 24; season starts on Sept. 7). (KHSAA)
Maine-boys & girls (practice allowed on Sept. 8; season starts on Sept. 17). (MPA)
Update: Maryland-boys & girls (season moved to spring) (MPSSAA)
Massachusetts-boys & girls (practice allowed on Sept. 14; season starts on Oct. 1). (MIAA)
Update: Michigan-boys (practice allowed on Aug. 12; decision on fall season to be made by Aug. 20) (MHSAA)
Update: Minnesota-boys & girls (practice allowed on Aug. 17; season starts on Aug. 27) (MSHSL)
Missouri-boys (practice allowed on Aug. 10; season starts on Aug. 28). (MSHSAA)
Montana-boys & girls (practice allowed on Aug. 14; season starts on Aug. 27). (MHSA)
Nevada-boys & girls (season moved to spring -- practice allowed on Feb. 20; season starts on March 5). (NIAA)
New Hampshire-boys & girls (practice allowed on Sept. 8; no decision on first date of fall season). (NHIAA)
New Jersey-boys & girls (practice allowed on Sept. 14; season starts on Oct. 1). (NJSIAA)
New Mexico-boys & girls (season moved to spring -- season starts on Feb. 15). (NMAA)
New York-boys & girls (season starts on Sept. 21) (NYPHSAA)
North Carolina-boys (*practice allowed on Sept. 1) (NCHSAA)
*The state restriction on sports re-openings was extended at least to Sept. 11.)
North Dakota-boys (practice allowed on Aug. 3; season starts on Aug. 14). (NDHSAA)
Ohio-boys & girls (practice allowed on Aug. 1; season starts on Aug. 21). (OHSAA)
Update: Oregon-boys & girls (season moved to spring -- practice allowed on Feb. 22; season starts on March 8). (OSAA)
Update: Pennsylvania-boys & girls (practice allowed on Aug. 24; season starts on Sept. 4). (PIAA)
Rhode Island-boys & girls (practice allowed on Aug. 20.) (RIIL)
South Dakota-boys & girls  (practice allowed on Aug. 3; season starts on Aug. 14). (SDHSAA)
Tennessee-girls (practice allowed on July 29; starts on Aug. 17). (TSSAA)
Vermont-boys & girls (practice allowed on Sept. 8; season starts after 10 days of practice). (VPA)
Washington D.C-boys & girls. (season moved to spring -- practice starts on Feb. 1; season starts on Feb. 22) (DCSAA)
West Virginia-boys & girls (practice allowed on Aug. 17; season starts on Sept. 2). (WVSSAC)
Wisconsin-boys (practice allowed on Sept. 7; season starts on Sept. 15). (WIAA)

High School soccer (by traditional season):
Fall: 31 boys, 23 girls
Winter: 7 boys, 7 girls
Spring: 13 boys, 21 girls

High School soccer traditional season (by state):
Alabama (spring)
Alaska (spring)
Arizona (winter)
Arkansas (spring)
California (winter)
Colorado (fall -- boys; girls -- spring)
Connecticut (fall)
Delaware (fall -- boys; girls -- spring)
Florida (winter)
Georgia (spring)
Hawaii (winter)
Idaho (fall)
Illinois (fall -- boys; girls -- spring)
Indiana (fall)
Iowa (spring)
Kansas (fall -- boys; girls -- spring)
Kentucky (fall)
Louisiana (winter)
Maine (fall)
Maryland (fall)
Massachusetts (fall)
Michigan (fall -- boys; girls -- spring)
Minnesota (fall)
Mississippi (winter)
Missouri (fall -- boys; girls -- spring)
Montana (fall)
Nebraska (spring)
Nevada (fall)
New Hampshire (fall)
New Jersey (fall)
New Mexico (fall)
New York (fall)
North Carolina (fall -- boys; girls -- spring)
North Dakota (fall -- boys; girls -- spring)
Ohio (fall)
Oklahoma (spring)
Oregon (fall)
Pennsylvania (fall)
Rhode Island (fall)
South Carolina (spring)
South Dakota (fall)
Tennessee (fall -- girls; spring -- boys)
Texas (winter)
Utah (spring)
Vermont (fall)
Virginia (spring)
Washington (spring)
Washington D.C. (fall)
West Virginia (fall)
Wisconsin (fall -- boys; girls -- spring)
Wyoming (spring)
1 comment about "Return to play: Ohio and Pennsylvania governors under pressure to grant reprieves".
  1. Ben Myers, August 8, 2020 at 12:29 p.m.

    Based on yesterday's move by MA Gov Charlie Baker to tighten up Covid-19 restrictions, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association may have to change its current position.  There is also a lot of debate about school openings here, as a few cities and towns have seen a rise in Covid-19 cases.  Honestly, too many maskholes!

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