Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine: ‘I could see all sorts of sports returning without spectators’

Speaking by phone from his farm outside Cedarville on Wednesday afternoon, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine had good news for those who, like him, are baseball fans.

“The leagues are gonna have to come up with a plan, which I know they’re going to, and assuming that plan makes sense, I can certainly see baseball being played this summer in Cleveland and Cincinnati,” he told the Dayton Daily News.

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MLB suspended spring training March 12, around the same time the NBA and NHL suspended their seasons and the NCAA canceled its basketball tournaments.

Subsequently, the OHSAA also canceled its winter championships, and spring sports were also canceled at both levels while the pros remain idle.

However, The Athletic reported this week Cleveland Indians officials have told players "Spring Training 2.0" could start in the first part of June with Opening Day set for July 1.

Additionally, Cleveland Cavaliers coach Bernie Bickerstaff reportedly told reporters on a Zoom call Wednesday the team will reopen its training facility to players Friday.

That’s OK with the governor.

“Professional sports are going to be obviously to a great extent dictated by the leagues, but it would not surprise me again to see some professional sports come back in Ohio, maybe with no spectators,” DeWine said. “That’s certainly a possibility.”

“I could see all kinds of sports occurring – without spectators,” he said. “I think that’s a middle ground. It allows for professional sports, those of us who like baseball, seeing it on TV would be a great thing. Or listening to a game on the radio. We’d like to see it in person, but we can’t do that. That’s obviously something in professional sports, the leagues have got to figure that out. That’s above my pay grade. They’ve got to come up with whatever their proposal is.”

He added that anything he said came with the caveat the coronavirus pandemic remains unpredictable.

“The danger is still there,” DeWine said. “The hospital numbers have plateaued. They’re still not going down. So we are at a very important time in this. We just have to keep – as we move back in and people start going to restaurants and things – people just have to be very, very careful as they do these things.”

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As for a college football season in the fall, DeWine again deferred to the leaders of the two Division I conferences in the state and the uncertainty created by the coronavirus.

“The Big Ten’s got to figure out what they’re gonna do,” he said. “The MAC has to figure out what they are going to do and every other league, and a lot is gonna depend, where are we in August? I don’t think anybody can predict where we are with this virus in August. I know people want certainty, but this virus does not provide certainty.”

While the state is still under a stay-at-home order through May 29, Ohio has begun to reopen this week.

Earlier this week, the governor said that more information is expected on when restaurants and bars can reopen, as well as the protocols they will have to follow based on the recommendations of a working group.

Similar groups looking at the reopening of daycares, salons, fairs, professional sports and youth sports.

“When you look at young people playing sports, I think everybody should be looking at how do we do as much distancing as we can, but let the young people play,” DeWine said.

“It may change some things, but trying to figure that out is where I hope things go. That everybody tries to decide how to make this work. It may not… maybe you limit people who are spectators so that the coach has got to worry about just his team or her team, but these are all things that are a work in progress, but everybody should be thinking about how to do that.

“Young people have got to have something to do during the summer. We’re trying to protect people, but at the same time we’ve got to allow some of this to go on.”

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