Spring Sports in Ohio Face New Challenge with Addition of 7-on-7 Football

As Ohio braces for the upcoming elections, the arrival of 7-on-7 football poses a fresh challenge for the state’s spring sports scene.

Traditionally dominated by baseball, softball, boys tennis, and track and field, the spring sports lineup has expanded in recent years. With the addition of boys volleyball, boys and girls lacrosse as OHSAA-sanctioned sports, and boys and girls rugby as club sports, the calendar is now overcrowded with athletic options.

This influx of new sports has raised concerns about how it will impact existing spring sports programs. St. Vincent-St. Mary track coach Dan Lancianese expressed his apprehension, noting that lacrosse’s emergence has already begun to interfere with track running. The proliferation of individual sports has led to an isolationist trend, raising questions about the broader impact on athletes.

However, there is optimism that a shortened 7-on-7 football schedule could mitigate some of these concerns. Unlike other sports, 7-on-7 tournaments typically run from January to April, with May left relatively free. This timing allows for minimal conflict with state tournaments held in the spring, providing a potential compromise for athletes and coaches.

Scott Ferrell, track coach at GlenOak High School, credits football coach Scott Garcia for his support of athletics beyond football. Ferrell believes that Garcia’s understanding of the importance of athleticism in football players will help minimize the negative impact of 7-on-7 football on other sports programs.

Nevertheless, athletic directors are faced with the challenge of maintaining equity among sports programs while accommodating the new addition. Mike Babinec, Athletic Director at Shaker Heights High School, emphasizes the need for ongoing dialogue and transparency to address these concerns effectively.

At the heart of this issue is the participation of coaches in 7-on-7 football. The OHSAA has emphasized the importance of collaboration between football coaches, spring sports coaches, and athletic directors to ensure that student-athletes can prioritize their spring sports commitments.

Despite these challenges, many believe that the impact on three-sport athletes in spring sports may not be as significant, particularly at smaller schools where multi-sport participation is common. Brody Jackson, Athletic Director at Manchester High School, remains optimistic that most students will continue their established sports routines.

Ultimately, the integration of 7-on-7 football into the spring sports calendar presents a logistical challenge that requires careful coordination and communication among stakeholders. With effective planning and cooperation, Ohio’s athletic community can navigate this new landscape and continue to support student-athletes across all sports.

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