High school football season will be delayed in Tennessee if it already happens in 2020.
On Monday, Governor Bill Lee extended Tennessees’ declaration of emergency until August 29. The order includes the limitation of contact sports with a requirement or a substantial chance of routine close contact and prevents most gatherings of 50 or more people.
Although the order does not apply to college or professional sports, there was no reservation for prep sports. TSSAA Executive Director Bernard Childress released a statement Tuesday in response to the extension.
While the Governors Order is in effect, affiliate schools cannot compete or scrimmage with other schools and engage in close contact activities during their basic practice of football, 7-for-7 football, girl football, wrestling, and basketball, he said.
Girls’ soccer and football would both start their regular season in the week of August 17. But since contact sports aren’t allowed until late August, Childress said the timeline won’t work.
Contactless fall sports such as cross country, golf and volleyball were not mentioned. Their seasons can still start on time depending on what the TSSAA Board of Control chooses to do with the sports calendar.
We are developing regular season and postseason options to submit to the TSSAA Board of Control for consideration, Childress said. The board will ultimately decide how this will affect the late season and whether adjustments can be made to the regular season competition.
TSSAA schools are currently in the second week of the annual summer death period, excluding coaches and athletes from participating in games or training on school grounds. Pre-season football practice would resume on July 6, and quilted practice could begin as early as July 27.
Districts across the state began social distance targeting exercises in June in hopes that contact restrictions would be lifted in July. Events involving more than one team, such as 7-on-7 passing leagues and football matches, are not allowed under the current mandate, but schools may continue pre-season training in one form or another.
Football teams typically spend 3-4 weeks in padded training before playing their first matches. This means that the regular season can be shortened or moved to September or October.
Other states are struggling with the same problem. A model presented in Virginia moves all sports back to December, with winter sports from December 13 to February 20, fall sports from February 15 to May 1, and spring sports from April 12 to June 26.
More clarity may come Wednesday morning. The TSSAA Board of Control is scheduled for a meeting to discuss the classification at 10:00 AM, but it is also expected that the issue of when sports can be played will be discussed.
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