The TSSAA isn’t ready to curtail the remainder of its sports seasons for the 2019-20 calendar year.
The association’s Board of Control met Tuesday via teleconference to further discuss precautions being taken regarding the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across the country.
Among items discussed were how, or if to proceed with the currently suspended Division I state basketball tournaments, as well as the next steps in whether spring sports would be allowed to continue given the current status of the pandemic.
In the end, the board voted to continue with the current suspension of the state basketball tournaments, and will maintain its stance with spring sports in not interfering with whether or not schools play regular season games at this time.
“We need to look and continue to see where we are in Tennessee and the U.S. as far as the virus is concerned,” Executive Director Bernard Childress said. “We could plan, but as things change every day we may be creating a pipe dream. But at least it lets student athletes know we didn’t give up.”
The TSSAA released in a statement on Friday that it would leave the playing of regular season games up to each individual school’s administrators and local boards of education. In upholding that decision, the association made it known that it still holds hopes of holding its annual Spring Fling state tournament events.
“We’re not giving up on our basketball tournament, and we’re not giving up on Spring Fling,” Childress said. “There may come a point when we have to say we can’t get it done, but we want our student-athletes to know we’re not giving up on their seasons.”
The decision comes as a relief to many coaches around the area, as well as athletes who may have wondered if they had participated in their last event of the season, or even their high school careers.
“I appreciate their efforts,” CCHS baseball coach Andy Chrisman said. “Our student athletes are not like college athletes that can be redshirted or given an extra year. I hope they try to do anything possible to let us play. Even if it means playing in June or July. Our seniors only get one chance at this.”
Among ideas floated to help get the championship events in were moving the remainder of the basketball tournaments to May and playing the Spring Fling festivities in June.
With the TSSAA not mandating schools play regular season games, it has left the door open to play only necessary tournament games in order to form a field for state tournaments in the spring.
As the current situation stands, trying to play a full schedule, or maybe even a full league slate could prove difficult before the postseason would have to begin to get everything in on time.
“That would make it very tough on teams like ours for sure,” Cosby softball coach Michael Bryant said. “We such a young team, but letting the seniors play a few games may help them to feel better about this season. I hope that when they get older they can understand why all these decisions were made.”
As of now Cocke County and Cosby high schools have athletic events suspended through the rest of the month to adhere to the city and county school boards’ decisions to suspend classes. The current TSSAA sports calendar slated May 6 as the final day to wrap up district tournaments within all Division I athletics.
If the calendar is able to be pushed back and teams are allowed to return to the field in a timely manner, working in regular season games may be possible. Nonetheless, some sort of warm-up period will also have to be factored in before resuming play with all athletic activities currently on hiatus.
“They would have to give teams some time to practice, play a couple of games, scrimmage or something,” Bryant said. “The hard part in all of this is not knowing what is going to happen. Hopefully this will pass quickly and we can get started back in the month of April.”