The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) Board of Control met on Wednesday at Siegel High School. The session, which was live streamed via YouTube to more than 1,800 viewers, adopted contingency plans for the fall contact sports of football and girls’ soccer. The session also adopted guidelines for all TSSAA sports including the elimination of all scrimmages until further notice. Additional mandates and recommendations for fans were adopted including the wearing of face coverings, limitations on attendance at events and a body temperature scan of all participants, media, officials and fans while attending TSSAA contests..
“The regulations and guidelines the Board passed today go into effect immediately for all sports,” said Bernard Childress, Executive Director of the TSSAA. “We’re hopeful that the prohibition on contact sports will be lifted before August 29, but if it’s not, the Board of Control has put some policies in place to help keep our kids and communities safe and lay out a roadmap to the start of our football and girls’ soccer seasons.”
What the association does not yet have is an exact start date for competitions. The reasoning there is fairly straightforward: Tennessee high schools and their athletics programs, as well as myriad other entities, cannot begin practices and/or games in contact sports under Gov. Bill Lee’s current State of Emergency Order. Executive Order No. 50 promotes “social distancing and avoidance of large gatherings” and limits activities in contact sports.
On Wednesday, the board adopted the “Option 2 Hybrid” plan which preserves the potential for an 10-game regular season and full playoff format, but also lays the groundwork for what could become an eight-game season with a reduced playoff field for Division I.
The plan perhaps is most succinctly summarized as thus: Once the state of Tennessee reaches the date of August 4 and the governor’s executive order declaring a State of Emergency still stands, region games originally scheduled for Week 1 of the prep football season will be moved to later, common dates that TSSAA already has modeled. As each week passes where no contact is allowed, the next week’s region games are rescheduled. With the unanimous vote on the Option 2 Hybrid, there is a potential start date in place and a plan for the football season to begin as early as August 21st or as late as September 18th. Additionally, the soccer season could begin as early as August 20th or as late as September 7th.
The board also passed a motion of safety guidelines that will be implemented throughout the fall sports seasons and will affect all sports, cheerleading and band as well as others involved in those activities.
Included in those guidelines:
• Players, coaches and personnel will have to take a temperature check prior to practice every day. Any person with a temperature 100.4 or higher will be required to go home immediately and cannot return without a negative COVID-19 test or verification from a doctor that the temperature wasn’t a cause of COVID-19.
• No coach, player or personnel can compete without a COVID-19 questionnaire completed.
• There will be no scrimmages for all fall sports, jamborees or seven-on-seven contests. Scrimmages must be limited to intrasquad.
• Fans entering a facility must have temperatures taken (with exception given to children 2 and younger). The same guidelines that are in place for players and coaches remain. Temperature checklists must be posted prominently.
• Member schools must require fans to wear face coverings while attending events.
• Concession stands will not be prohibited but will be discouraged, with options that would ensure social distancing recommended.
• Coaches must complete a NHFS COVID-19 course, which will be provided free.
• While no exact figure was set, schools were urged to offer limited seating (from a third to a quarter capacity) during events, posting areas that were not available.
A motion also passed that any team not able to play a postseason contest because of COVID-19 would forfeit. Any regular-season games with that scenario would be considered no-contests.
See the full guidelines at: https://tssaa.org/returntoplay
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