The Williamson County sports season is seeing COVID cancellations grow, particularly in the realm of football.
Just this week, Williamson County Schools has seen Independence, Nolensville and Page have to call off football games due to the impact of COVID on those teams, and Fairview recently had to shut down all of its teams and school for two whole weeks.
Indy and Page are shut down for the duration of the week response to higher counts of the virus on their respective campuses, with hopes of reopening Monday.
Brentwood has had four instances of COVID restrictions affecting opponents this season. They've had to find new opponents for two contests and postpone two others. The Bruins only played in one region game so far because of it (a win at Ravenwood).
Summit has been impacted for the last two weeks with its opponents, with the team's key region game with Page now on hold.
Non-WCS football teams like Christ Presbyterian Academy and Battle Ground Academy have had COVID affect their football teams, and Brentwood Academy has had to adjust games in the last two weeks with their opponents on COVID halts.
There is worry aplenty about what this all means for the safety of athletes and coaches, and for any season's continuation to state.
Time is running out to reschedule football games if they are called off, too. Volleyball and girls soccer are even both on the cusp of or already in the postseason. What's on the horizon, you might wonder?
WCS Athletic Director Darrin Joines has a message for WCS parents concerned about the recent cancellations and what it means for the future.
"It would be that student safety is priority number one," Joines said. "That's the bottom line. We're going to make sure that student safety is priority number one."
Expanding on the recent wave of cancellations, Joines said that each situation with WCS teams could be stemming from different reasons for why not to play.
"Every situation is different," Joines said. "I think it's very easy for anyone to try and compare a situation that happened with team A and team B and C, or a situation that's happening in school A, comparing that to school B and C....it's so different in different places. So every situation is so unique that it's not like exactly, A plus B equals C. The formula's a little bigger.
"It's one of those Trigonometry kind of proofs, not Algebra 1."
One might wonder, well, why would a specific team shut down or postpone/cancel a game? Joines provides two big ones if COVID does impact the program.
"It really depends on the specific situation," Joines said. "For example, in some of our teams, football teams for example, that have cancelled, it maybe one of two things.
"It could be, 'look, we're cancelling because we could potentially reschedule this game, it's a region game. We both have an opportunity to move the game. Let's move it.' That way, it's more of an authentic kind of game."
Another reason a team might cancel a game would be for safety in game engagement with different levels of players.
"For some people, it could be a safety issue," Joines said. "Not safety in terms of number of people playing, but the areas where they're missing people.
"If you start getting three deep at a position, for example, you've got a freshman trying to play, and they haven't played a varsity game all year, and now they're trying to block a 5A or 6A lineman. Well, you start getting into safety [issues], especially with football."
To Joines, this is why you might see some schools playing other sports right now and not football on a given week.
"That really is what it boils down to," he said. "It depends on, do they have a place in the schedule? Does their opponent have a place in the schedule? And, is this a safety issue in terms of playing?"
One of the pratfalls with cancelling games happens if they have region standings. A team needs to be able to get its region games in for playoff standings and to determine a region winner.
We've seen Nolensville just this week have to reschedule its region game with Tullahoma to Oct. 23. and call off its non-region game against Franklin originally scheduled for that week.
Joines explained the process for what happens when schedules shift around and future dates must be decided.
"I think what happens, and these are discussions we've had, you've got to put priority on region games," Joines said. "You have to. So, this is kind of a TSSAA thing, by the way, in terms of cancelling games.
"If it's a COVID cancellation, if we can't play for whatever reason... Our team can't play. Well, the team that could play can get the win, the team that can't play gets a no-contest. So it's not a win or a loss.
"What also happens is this. Let's say that school A and school B are playing a non-region game, and school A wants to use that date to make up a region game. What can end up happening is this. You can mutually decide it, or one team can say, we're going to move you and play our region game there, and you still have to live up to the terms of the contract.
"And what that usually means is, we're going to maybe have a $500 cancellation, or $1000, whatever that is. But, because so many people understand that this is odd, very rarely are you going to see somebody say, 'hey, you couldn't play us, you're choosing to play a region game instead, now give us a thousand bucks.' That's going to be very rare that that happens because it's not like a normal year."
To Joines going ahead, the county's teams have to play the region slate before all else. If any teams going ahead have to cancel a non-region contest, it will have a low likelihood of being rescheduled.
"Region games are always going to be priorities, whether it's here or another region," he said.