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Ohio allows high schoolers to wrestle, but forbids shaking hands before, after matches

The state of Ohio is allowing the high school wrestling season to proceed this winter, but with some rather head-scratching COVID-based rules and regulations.

As you may know, wrestling is the one sport which features a very high degree of bodily contact. And in this coronavirus-laden atmosphere, one might think that, of all sports, it should be skipped this year.

But the Ohio High School Athletic Association feels differently. Like in pre-COVID days, state high school wrestlers will be allowed to grab, grasp and hold onto one another — maskless — for three three-minute rounds, but they are not, repeat not, allowed to shake hands with opponents before or after a match. Nor with any coaches. And they must make frequent use of hand sanitizer.

They also have to adhere to the following:

— “No congregating before or after practices or games”

— “Wear facial coverings off the mat when not actively competing or warming-up”

— “[T]hose on the team bench shall observe social distancing of 6 feet”

— “Do not share equipment, towels, facial coverings, water bottles, other drinks or food.”

Coaches must not share “clipboards, whiteboards, dry erase boards or any other equipment used for coaching purposes,” and are required to conduct “pre-travel symptom and temperature checks” before away matches.

Wrestling officials, who literally have to get down flat to determine pins (their head and hands touching the mat), don’t have to wear masks during matches … but are forbidden to hold up a winning wrestler’s arm in victory at match’s conclusion. Fist-bumping wrestlers and coaches also is disallowed.

Schools hosting matches are required to disinfect wrestling mats in between matches, but the OHSAA rules say “as feasible.”

The Media Research Center wonders which make less sense — these wrestling mandates or Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s apparent belief that COVID is deadlier between the hours of 10pm and 5am.

MORE: Transgender boy wins second straight girls’ HS wrestling title

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.