The Van Wert County Courthouse

Tuesday, May. 24, 2022

Opinion: OHSAA made the right call

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent sports editor

Not everyone will agree, but given the growing number of COVID-19 cases and the fallout surrounding the virus, it was the right decision.

I’m talking about Thursday’s official cancellation of the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s winter sports tournaments, due to the coronavirus pandemic. The announcement was made via a press release.

“We are just devastated that the tournaments cannot be completed,” OHSAA Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass said in the release. “But our priority is the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, communities and officials.”

I’m sure it was an agonizing decision for Snodgrass.

One could argue he should have pulled the plug last week instead of keeping the tournaments on hold, but I think he was holding out hope that a small miracle would happen, one that would allow the tournaments to somehow resume sometime in April.

In some ways, it’s safe to say the continued postponement may have created false hope among affected teams and their fans, but I’m sure that wasn’t his intention at all. 

In the end, it just wasn’t feasible to postpone any longer.

With each passing day, the already slim chances of resuming the tournaments – regional boys’ basketball, state girls’ basketball, state wrestling and state ice hockey – dwindled even more. 

Many people believe the whole COVID-19 situation is overblown or is media hype. Others question the numbers and percentages of people affected by the virus.

Regardless, I’ve heard fans say it shouldn’t matter how long the postponement would be, to just resume play whenever possible. However, with no solid timeline as to when that may be, that’s not a realistic option. Kids can’t practice together, and asking wrestlers to maintain weight indefinitely isn’t at all practical. 

Even if the tournaments somehow resumed, there would have been all sorts of logistical problems. At the very least, games would have most likely been shifted to different sites, maybe even high school gymnasiums or facilities. With Ohio State University all but being shut down until late summer, there’s no way St. John Arena or the Schottenstein Center would have been reopened for games or wrestling. 

The same could probably be said for the Stroh Center at Bowling Green. Perhaps state hockey could have been played at Nationwide Arena, but we’ll never know. 

If you’re a Parkway fan, it’s heartbreaking. The school qualified for it’s first ever Elite Eight basketball game and was preparing to take on the state’s top ranked Division IV team, Columbus Grove in the regional finals. 

It’s also heartbreaking for Columbus Grove, Ottawa-Glandorf, Lima Sr. and any basketball team that was alive in the tournament. I’m betting it was worse for the girls teams that qualified for state, especially for Dayton Carroll and Beloit West Branch, who were 15 minutes away from tipping off the Division II state semifinals. 

It’s no less heartbreaking for Gabe Steyer, Van Wert’s three-time state wrestling qualifier. 

As someone who has covered sports for many years, I feel for each and every one of the teams and student-athletes affected by the decision. I also feel bad for the fans who passionately followed their teams and rooted them on every step of the way. It doesn’t seem fair.

I have to admit – I’m concerned about the status of spring sports. At this very moment, practices will resume April 6, with baseball, softball, tennis and track and field scheduled to begin their respective seasons on April 11. 

However, any extension of the current statewide school closure will put those dates in jeopardy. Governor Mike DeWine has said on more than one occasion that he won’t be surprised if schools are closed longer or perhaps for the remainder of the academic year. 

A decision will have to be made soon. If schools are indeed shuttered for the rest of the year, spring sports will be out the window. If the closure is extended by just a week or two, more tough decisions will have to be made on spring sports. 

If you’re a sports fan at any level, it’s been a rough March, and that’s not even taking into account the number of people who have lost jobs or are otherwise somehow affected by COVID-19. Let’s hope we never have to go through any of this ever again.

As always, if you have any thoughts you’d like to share, feel free to email me at sports@theviwndependent.com

POSTED: 03/27/20 at 8:55 am. FILED UNDER: Sports