The start of high school football and girls soccer seasons in Tennessee will be delayed after Gov. Bill Lee announced Monday that he was extending the State of Emergency until Aug. 29.
“While the Governor’s order is in place, member schools cannot have any competition or scrimmage with other schools and cannot have close contact activities during their fundamental practice in the sports of football, 7-on-7 football, girls soccer, wrestling and basketball,” TSSAA Executive Director Bernard Childress said in a prepared statement on Tuesday.
Girls soccer and football were scheduled to begin their regular seasons the week of Aug. 17. Because contact sports are not allowed until at least the end of August, Childress said that timeline will not work.
Non-contact fall sports like cross country, golf and volleyball were not mentioned. Their seasons could still start on time depending on what the TSSAA Board of Control opts to do with the sports calendar.
“We are in the process of developing regular season and postseason options to present to the TSSAA Board of Control for their consideration,” Childress said. “The Board will ultimately make the decision as to how this will impact the postseason and if any adjustments can be made to regular season competition.”
The TSSAA Board is scheduled to meet Wednesday to discuss classification, but scenarios will be addressed regarding fall sports, said TSSAA Assistant Executive Director Matthew Gillespie.
“It’s really too early to tell because so many ideas and options are out there,” Gillespie said. “It will be interesting to see which way was the Board wants to go with that. A lot of options will be put out there but I wouldn’t expect anything to happen (Wednesday).
Gillespie said the state football playoff revenue makes up about one-third of the TSSAA’s operating budget, but half of that goes to pay for catastrophic insurance.
“In our operating budget in our pocket it’s really about 15 percent,” he said. “It would hurt member schools more, but we just want them to get back on the field some way or another.”
Riverdale was scheduled to play in a 7-on-7 passing tournament next week as well as hosting one.
“There is still a lot of unknowns — when can we practice and what is the official start date for the season,” Riverdale coach Will Kriesky said. “The kids are dying to play and want to know what’s going on. I’m a little surprised they made the decision so soon, but then again with the governor and with the way it is, they’re in direct communication and made the decision that is best for the athletes.”
Added Blackman coach Kit Hartsfield: “Based on the governor’s extension of the state of emergency, obviously the TSSAA’s hands are tied. I know they are working hard on a plan to keep fall sports. I hope they find a solution.”
La Vergne first-year football coach Mike Woodward said his team also had big plans for next week.
“We were going to Nolensville a couple of nights for work days and to Shelbyville for their 7-on-7 tournaments,” he said. “Unfortunately, it doesn’t surprise me. I’m still disappointed but understand where (the governor) is coming from trying to keep people safe.”
First-year Siegel football coach Adam Renshaw remains hopeful the 2020 season will be played.
“Well, obviously I think in our situation we’re anxious to play ball, so it’s tough to hear,” he said. “On the other hand, you’ve got to trust the people in charge. It’s disappointing; we want to play and compete. Our job is to get them ready to play when we can go. When the state of emergency is over, hopefully we can get our season in. I would like for these senior boys to get a shot at playing.”