At least one state high school association has dared to think the unthinkable: What if the coronavirus outbreak shuts down fall sports, too?
As reported by WCPO in Cincinnati, the Ohio High School Athletic Association has started to consider that the fall sports season could be delayed should the pandemic linger into August. Those thoughts were first expressed Friday, one day after the OHSAA canceled four winter sports tournaments it had put on hold amid the crisis.
"Friday in our daily meeting that we have with staff — not that we weren't thinking about it — but now we're starting to look at what if we are delayed in football?" OHSAA executive director Jerry Snodgrass told WCPO, an ABC affiliate, Saturday. "What if we are delayed in our fall sports? Cross country (is) one of the earliest starts."
Aug. 1 is the official start of practice for cross country, field hockey, football, golf, soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball.
"It's difficult for us too to have one sport — I guess you can say all you want in cross country there is social distancing because you outrace the other person — but it's pretty difficult to have one sport and not have the other," Snodgrass said. "I know that people challenge that a little bit but we are looking at now fall. We're starting to plan."
Meanwhile, spring sports remain in limbo during statewide school closures. Initial estimates placed the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on OHSAA finances at up to $1.5 million, but Snodgrass said the revenue loss is closer to $2 million due to the cancellation of the winter sports tournaments. The OHSAA, which serves 816 member high schools and 760 seventh and eighth grade schools, has a $19 million total budget.
Ticket revenue from postseason tournaments makes up an estimated 80 percent of the OHSAA operational budget. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization does not rely on tax dollars.