Winter sports teams will play in front of smaller crowds due to COVID-19


Monarch roundball fans watch Garrett Taylor put in a basket during a 2019-20 game. It is anticipated there will be far fewer fans in attendance once the 2020-21 campaign begins. (Journal-Tribune photo by Tim Miller)

As of presstime today (and it can’t be any more precise than that), no one knows when the 2020-21 winter sports season will begin for the majority of Union County area schools.
The only local team that has been able to play any games to date is the girls hoop squad from Triad.
The other four districts – Marysville, Fairbanks, North Union and Jonathan Alder – have hit pause buttons of various lengths.
The shutdowns have been due to COVID-19.
Fairbanks athletes are scheduled to come off their pause on Monday.
MHS sports have been sidelined until at least Dec. 7.
Jonathan Alder athletes could be out of commission the longest.
The Madison County Health Department has mandated a shutdown from Nov. 30 until Jan. 1.
Whether that mandate may change remains to be seen.
Whenever local teams return to action, they will undoubtedly play before much smaller crowds.
The number of fans from Monarch, Panther, Wildcat, Pioneer and Cardinal Nations will be reduced due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) has recommended schools restrict attendance to only the parents of the participants, or eliminate all spectators for their winter sports competitions through Dec. 31.
“We want to follow this recommendation so that our student-athletes can continue to compete,” said OHSAA executive director Doug Ute. “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.”
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.
Regarding media coverage, the OHSAA asks schools to still permit media coverage of their contests, but the number of media attending should be restricted to those who regularly cover the teams involved.
The OHSAA provided the following recommendations for member schools:
-For those schools that decide to admit parents, list the names of the parents on a roster sheet that is located at the ticket window/admission table. This will help clarify who should/should not be admitted and will hopefully eliminate non-parents from attending;
-There is no prohibition on cheerleaders and pep bands, but schools should make their own decisions on these students’ participation. Schools should strongly consider not sending cheerleaders to away contests.
As administrators were notified last week, the OHSAA winter sports seasons are moving forward as planned.
That decision was made after the executive director’s office had discussions with the governor’s office, the OHSAA Board of Directors and numerous administrators combined with the results of the membership survey.
The survey indicated 56% of the 1,464 respondents recommended the OHSAA begin all winter sports contests as they are currently planned and scheduled.
The decision for schools to move forward with sports is a local decision.
Schools may choose not to participate in a contest or to pause their season(s) for a period and should do what is in their best interest.
“The OHSAA believes our member schools provide student-athletes with the safest possible environment to continue participating and we all recognize the educational, physical and mental health benefits of participation,” said Ute.


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