TSSAA

After a meeting was called to decide the immediate fates for preps football and girls soccer in Tennessee this fall, the TSSAA has instead pivoted and says it won't make contingency plans just yet. 

In Wednesday's Board of Control meeting, TSSAA Exec. Director Bernard Childress shared the organization's intent to push a decision to an unspecified later date and left open the possibility for sports to start on time this fall. 

For reasoning on the decision, he cited continued conversations with Gov. Bill Lee's legal counsel on what could be possible for the fall in wake of COVID-19 and a request from more time from that office to watch the data and work with the TSSAA's staff. 

"There will come a time when we will have to make a decision on the contingency plan, but right now, it is our opinion that we need to give their legal team the opportunity to see if it's even needed in girls soccer and football," he said in the virtual meeting. 

"Their legal counsels are very well aware of our sports calendar, and when we would normally start, and we will continue to work to get an answer as soon as we can from them." 

The decision indeed marks a change in direction from last week, where three plans were given for consideration for a delayed football season and an option was presented for an altogether postponed girls soccer season. 

The TSSAA opted to postpone both sports' seasons outright last week after the order came down from the state and said a decision would be made on how both seasons would go forth. 

In Wednesday's meeting, Childress said there's still time to come to a definitive conclusion for the fall, and echoed sentiment from a member of of Gov. Lee's legal team: hope for the best, plan for the worst. 

"We have the plans, but it's not necessary for us to make that decision today," he said. "We need to give them the opportunity to do what they need to do as in watching the data." 

He also reaffirmed calls for personal efforts to help flatten the state's curve of positive COVID-19 cases.

As of Tuesday, the Tennessee Department of Health reported that there were 53,514 total cases across the state and 665 fatalities. 31,827 people have recovered, and 2,950 people are currently hospitalized. 

In Williamson County, overall positive cases stood at 1,420, up 80 from Monday's tally of 1,340. 15 people have died, and 20,571 negative tests have been conducted thus far, per the state

"I think we concluded by saying if TSSAA and the governor's legal counsels can say anything, I know a lot of people are listening to this today, is that if we have any chance on having fall sports...we would echo the same thing that they would say...you need to help us out," Childress said. "People need to wear masks, you need to social distance and wash the hands. 

"And we need to get our numbers down because that's going to be the key. The return on that investment would be we do get to have fall sports hopefully on time this year." 

Childress officially asked toward the end of the meeting if the vote could be delayed until they could come to a final conclusion with the governor's office. This was approved by the Board of Control. 

"We're making progress," Childress said. "We want to continue to work with the governor's legal counsel, and we will update the board and the public and everyone when we come to a final decision with them." 

As of now, the governor's Executive Order No. 50 prohibits any routine contact sports from engaging in contact activity, which includes football and girls soccer. The order ends on Saturday, Aug. 29, at this moment. 

The organization mandated last week that all member schools abide by this order, which means football teams cannot right now engage in any padded practice, scrimmages or games until Sunday, Aug. 30, at the earliest.

The same applies to girls soccer for contact practice, scrimmage and games. TSSAA-sanctioned cheerleading events and contact basketball and wrestling practices are included in this as well. 

Conditioning and non-contact practice can be conducted by all teams at the moment, with the TSSAA's dead period lapsing Monday. 

The organization said last week volleyball, cross country and golf would not be impacted by the order and that their calendar years would stay on course. 

As of now, football and girls soccer could not start at their given times on the TSSAA's calendar, leaving both awaiting the organization's ultimate decision on when they could resume in full.  

No definite timeline was given on when a decision would be made and the TSSAA says it will not comment further on the issue as discussions with the governor's office are ongoing. 

The Board of Control will reconvene in-person on July 22 at Siegel High School's cafeteria for a classification study session for the 2021-22 school year. 

Streaming cameras to be made available for member schools 

The TSSAA also shared an update Wednesday about streaming video cameras being made available for all member schools from the NFHS Network. 

"The early afternoon meeting included an update from Assistant Executive Director Matthew Gillespie who shared news from the NFHS Network about the availability of free Pixelot automated streaming video cameras for members' School Broadcast Programs," an email read from TSSAA after its meeting

"Schools that don't already have Pixelot cameras or want to enhance their coverage are eligible to receive two free Pixelot cameras from the NFHS Network. Schools should contact Matthew Gillespie to get started with the School Broadcast Program and to learn more about this offer." 

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