Athletic “pause” aims to protect student athletes

Jackson Queen, Broadcast Editor

COVID-19 has provided an ever-changing landscape for the world today: events being cancelled, schools going remote, and workplaces being shut down. These unsettling times have people calling for normalcy in their everyday lives. For some of the Tallmadge community, that normalcy and comfort comes from sports. Fortunately, Tallmadge City Schools were able to provide a fall sports season with unwavering success across the athletic program. The community’s hope was that the schools were going to be able to continue this success and have the schools provide a winter sports season. Unfortunately, though, Tallmadge is going to have to wait a few more weeks until that season can start. A sports shutdown, that lasted from the beginning of Thanksgiving break (Nov.24) to Dec. 7 was put in place.

On Dec. 3, Governor Mike DeWine announced that Summit County had moved to the purple category, meaning that the COVID-19 spread and infection rate is very high in the area. Due to this and a few team shut downs in Tallmadge, Athletic Director Tim Mosher and Superintendent Jeff Ferguson made the tough decision to halt Tallmadge sports until Dec.19.

“The original sports pause that we put in place was approximately two weeks in length. Given the uncertain nature of the pandemic, we wanted to continue with another two-week pause so that we could evaluate if it was safe to return at the end of the two-week period. We did not want to set the tentative return date too far out in advance in case it became safer to return to athletic activities before we reached our tentative return date,” Mosher said.

While a postponement of the winter sports season is not what anybody wanted, it was almost immanent that it happened. Ohio has seen a third spike in COVID-19 cases since Thanksgiving, averaging about 9000 new cases a day across the state (per the Ohio Health Department website).

“At this point in time, the spread of COVID-19 is very high throughout Summit County and the entire State of Ohio. We will continue to monitor the data and public health orders, advisories, and recommendations to inform our decision-making regarding returning to play,” Mosher said.

The Athletic Department has preached the safety of their athletes all year and has taken precautions to ensure that teams are as safe as they possibly can be. On Nov. 20, the Athletic Department announced a spectator ban on home Tallmadge games. On Nov.24, both the Boys and Girls Basketball teams were shut down due to a positive case and exposure. These precautions and decisions were made to protect Tallmadge Athletes.

“The safety of our staff, student-athletes, athletic personnel, and community will continue to be our top priority in all decisions that we make,” Mosher said. 

It is the Athletic Departments biggest priority to bring the winter season back, as long as it is safe for Tallmadge athletes to return.

“It is our intent to return to athletics as soon as it is safe to do so. We understand that it is frustrating to be paused right now. However, we need to be proactive in our fight against COVID-19 during a very dangerous time,“ Mosher said.

Although Tallmadge City Schools are now remote learning, sports could still return Dec. 19, barring a change in COVID-19 cases. Athletes are urged to follow all health guidelines and “continue to follow the public health safety protocols of mask wearing, social distancing (6 feet or more), and frequently washing your hands. We must all do our small part to help contribute to the greater good and help curb the spread of COVID-19,” Mosher said.