As state associations and federations around the country wrestle with how to deal with football in the fall during a global pandemic, one organization in Ohio has unleashed an exhaustive, and detailed, 37-page guideline packet. The Ohio High School Football Coaches Association has done its homework with its document featuring an opening statement, table of contents, 28 diagrammed photos, eight colored graphics and 84 bullet points.
The longtime organization with more than 3,000 members included such topics as practice and travel plans, COVID responses, fan protocols, and courses of action.
The OHSFCA is not an official governing body like the Ohio High School Athletic Association, but its recommendations are heard and often followed.
Its opening statement cites a growing concern in the behavioral and mental health of players due to social distancing because of COVID-19. The organization is on a "mission to promote (football) by recommending the use of the safest, most medically sound and best practices in teaching skills to athletes. It is our belief that the mental health of young (athletes) who play football can be negatively affected by eliminating football for 2020."
So to get it going, here are some of its more interesting findings and bullet-point proposals, which includes endless references to sanitizing and social-distance protocols.
• An 80-yard sideline — 10-yard-line to 10-yard-line — for each team to give more social distancing.
• Single practice sessions will not exceed three hours during the preseason.
• No practice to exceed 2 hours, 15 minutes during the season.
• Prior to the game, each player must have his own water bottle, which is to filled from a central location. Trainer or designee will be responsible for water bottle refills.
• Pregame, during, and after the game, all team personnel shall refrain from sharing towels, water, apparel or equipment.
• During coin toss, limit attendees to the referee, umpire and one designated representative from each team.
• For games, players should bring four T-shirts — plastic bags should be provided for the player to put shirts in when changed — one for pregame, first half, second half and post game.
• Only team members can be in the team box. Everyone that is a team member and not in a uniform must have a team box pass. Injured player with jersey only will count as uniform.
• Team personnel will be responsible for sanitizing footballs per sideline. Footballs will be rotated and sanitized as often as possible during the game.
• Every six minutes of game clock time there will be a two-minute break to help eliminate continuous contact for 15 minutes. Players will sanitize their hands during timeouts.
• Opposing teams should avoid use of the locker room when possible and used only for restroom breaks and hazardous weather.
• No handshakes after the game.
• For fans, the temperature of each will be taken as they enter the game. They must exit following the game with no congregating at any point.
• Under general rules, Before, during and after the contest, players, coaches, game officials, team personnel
and game administration officials should wash and sanitize their hands as often as possible.
• No touch rule — players should refrain from high fives and other physical contact with teammates, opposing players, coaches, officials, and fans.
On a final note, the OHSFCA made a case that football isn't as much a contact sport as most consider.
"An average play lasts 4-to-6 seconds," it wrote. "Based on this study, an offensive lineman whose contact ratio is 100 percent every play, will average a little over five minutes of continuous contact per game if they play every play on the offensive side of the ball. Likewise, a defensive lineman, whose contact ratio is 100 percent per play, will also average a little over five minutes of continuous contact per game if they play every play on the defensive side of the ball. Based on these averages, no player on either football team will incur over 11 minutes of continuous contact, which is under the CDC guidelines of no more than 15 minutes of continuous contact."