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Parma City Schools Leading Push To Delay Contact Sports Until Spring

The petition calls for maintaining eligibility for students to participate in interschool sporting events even if they opt to wait until spring. [David Lee / Shutterstock]
A football lying on a field.

Updated: 5:06 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020

The Parma City School District (PCSD) is leading an effort to delay contact sports until spring due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Mike DeWine announced Tuesday that high school sports would be permitted this fall, but the Ohio High School Athletic Association will allow districts to opt into a delayed season.

“We know some schools are still deciding, some schools have already made up their mind, they’ve already announced,” DeWine said. “Our goal is to focus on the student and focus on the school, and provide them the best opportunity we can so the student can participate.”

 For districts that do begin their seasons in the fall, DeWine said spectators will not be permitted at events.

Twenty-three school districts, mostly in Cuyahoga County, signed a petition supporting the delay that was sent to OHSAA this week. A delay would give all students equal opportunity to play safely, PCSD Superintendent Charles Smialek said.

“We’re up against the reality that it’s going to be very difficult to have any season for our contact sports this fall, so we believe it behooves us to explore this move to the spring,” Smialek said. “The goal is to be able to have the same level of opportunity as we would normally offer, albeit in a safer way and at a non-traditional time.”

The delay would present some drawbacks, including potential overlap with winter and spring sports, he said, but opening contact sports back up now presents a greater risk.

“As schools get into putting the pads on, letting the kids get back in, I think you’re going to see some more shutdowns and more appetites to move into the spring,” Smialek said. “That puts them in a position where there’s exhaustion and fatigue, but at least there would be that option. We think this fall it’s very likely that there would be no options.”

The petition calls for maintaining eligibility for students to participate in interschool sporting events even if they opt to wait until spring, Smialek said.

“We know there isn’t going to be a state tournament for schools that move to the spring,” he said. “All we’re really asking for is the concerns that our athletes will not be ruled ineligible if they decide to participate in the spring.”

Parma student-athletes are currently practicing,  with social distancing rules in place, but are not participating in any league games, Smialek said. Practices are also limited in scope to comply with the district’s social distancing guidelines, he said.

“[Coaches] are working at skills and conditioning to make sure our students stay in shape and have these outlets for exercise and socialization,” Smialek said.