By Maurice Patton
As high school coaches from one end of the state to the other await Governor Bill Lee’s signature on Executive Order 55 – announced Tuesday to allow football and girls soccer, previously classified as “high-risk contact sports”, to go on as scheduled in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic under Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association guidelines – other COVID-related concerns continue to reveal themselves.
A day after Lee’s announcement, a group representing Nashville’s public health community, Metro Nashville Public Schools and Davidson County’s private schools encouraged a moratorium on all sports until after Labor Day.
Such an action would disrupt cross country, golf and volleyball regular-season play — in addition to football and girls soccer — involving as many as 36 schools within the county, until at least Sept. 8.
“We’re kinda between a rock and hard place,” veteran Maplewood football coach Arcentae Broome said this week. “Everybody in the surrounding counties, they don’t have the same situation we have in Davidson County. We’re in a hot spot right now.
“You can only do what you can do, but it’s going to be challenging for everybody.”
Maplewood’s situation is of particular interest to Spring Hill, as the two are Region 4-4A participants. The Raiders are currently scheduled to host their Oct. 2 matchup – and with limited attendance already being recommended for the season, the potential of having a game completely eliminated from the schedule is less than appealing.
“We’ve heard everything from Metro Nashville not playing to having travel restrictions,” Spring Hill coach Ben Martin said. “We’ve tried to talk as region coaches throughout the process, and we’ve all agreed that we don’t know what we don’t know.
“It concerns me. (Home games) are precious commodities.”
Columbia Central has two Metro opponents for the upcoming season, with a road trip to Overton set for Sept. 11 before a homecoming contest against Stratford on Oct. 23.
While neither is a region game, Central coach Jason Hoath would hate to miss either opportunity.
“We’re going to be hopeful that they can play, for those kids’ sake and for our sake,” Hoath said. “At least one of them is an away game, but losing a home game, especially this year, will hurt (financially).”
Stratford coach Thomas Porter applauded the MNPS administration for its leadership to this point, but admitted there’s still a lot to be settled.
“We’re still trying to figure out all the details for making sure we’re keeping our kids as safe as possible,” Porter said. “We’re going to be starting school virtually. I don’t know how that’s going to work with athletics. We’re just going to roll with the punches.”
If Davidson County’s schools were to miss the first three weeks of the football season, Independence’s Week 2 trip to Christ Presbyterian Academy would be affected. Few other area programs would be impacted in the early going, as Columbia Academy does not begin Division II-A West Region play until Week 4.
According to TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress, any game not played as a result of the pandemic will be immediately entered as a “no contest”. If it is not made up by the end of the season, the team that was able to play will be credited with a win to help determine playoff positioning.
“We’re not going to penalize a team for the pandemic,” he said, referring to a decision made by the Board of Control during its July 22 meeting. “But it’s only fair that the team that can play gets a win, for seeding purposes.”
Maurice Patton is the editor for Southern Middle Tennessee Sports. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @mopatton_sports.