UPDATE: The TSSAA has officially delayed the starts to both the football and girls soccer seasons. 

The upcoming Williamson County high school football season runs a new risk of being delayed. 

Gov. Bill Lee's continuation of Tennessee's State of Emergency declaration in wake of COVID-19 has made mention of routine close-contact sports, which would include football. 

Executive Order No. 50 specifically states that those in Tennessee must "limit contact sports with a requirement or substantial likelihood of routine close contact." 

The order goes on to say, "this does not apply to collegiate or professional sports conducted under the rules or guidelines of their respective governing bodies and does not prohibit training or otherwise practicing the elements of such sports that do not involve close contact with persons." 

In other words, the order says football teams could still have no-contact practices and partake in conditioning right now, but close-contact practices and games would be limited until that Aug. 29 threshold. 

The football season was set to begin on Aug. 21.

Scrimmages and padded practices/conditioning might be necessary before a regular season game is played, too, making a quick return after the executive order lapses difficult. 

The first potential Friday for games would be Sept. 4 at the moment, but again, that could be a hard date to meet with very little permitted football contact prior to that. 

Other fall sports like volleyball, girls soccer, cross country and golf aren't as likely to be affected by this decision as football is due to the limit of interpersonal contact they have. Football, on the other hand, involves frequent hitting and tackling.

Per Russell Vannozzi of the The Connection, the TSSAA has not made any major decisions either way with the news. 

"We just received the order and are reviewing it," TSSAA Exec. Director Bernard Childress told Vannozzi. "We have not made any decisions yet."

In the spring, the TSSAA allowed various school systems to make decisions on regular-season games up to a certain point before cancelling all remaining activities and TSSAA-sanctioned postseasons in late April. 

The TSSAA is set to hold a Board of Control meeting Wednesday in regard to delay new classifications the coming school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This new issue prompted by the state's order could bring it to discussion with the Board as soon as that Wednesday meeting. 

Williamson County Schools has not yet commented on the decision from the governor's office.

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