Category Archives: Opinion

Commentary: TSSAA spring sports decisions defy logic

By Chris Yow

Make it make sense, TSSAA.

What, you ask? All of it — heck, any of it.

Recently, the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association alerted spring sports — baseball, softball, boys soccer, tennis and track — coaches there would not be any preseason scrimmages allowed prior to their regular seasons. Football coaches were told there would be no scrimmages allowed against other schools to culminate their spring practices.

The problem with this is there is absolutely nothing about it that makes any logical sense.

Can the TSSAA Board of Control give any logical reason for restricting competition between two teams who are about to embark on 18-game regular seasons? If so, I’d love to hear it.

What about football teams, who will have practiced with each other for two weeks playing against another school’s players who have practiced without incident for two weeks? Sorry, no go. No matter that it’s the last thing those kids will do regarding football until summer workouts.

It isn’t like they’re going to be any safer playing an intrasquad game than against an opponent without any cases among their team. Certainly not any safer than they will be in August.

It seems at every turn the TSSAA has made illogical decisions while also making sound decisions regarding regular-season play.

But if the regular season is OK to play, why wouldn’t a scrimmage be OK? It’s as controlled as any form of competition in which the student-athletes will take part.

COVID-19 is certainly an issue across our state, but throughout the 2020-21 school year, the TSSAA has done some of its best work. Working with Governor Bill Lee’s office to make sure parents can attend games was good work. Getting an entire football season played was even more impressive, especially as the season drew to a close and cases were going up across Tennessee.

As basketball season has continued through game and tournament cancellations and postponements, at least the governing body has stuck with their original plan to leave it up to local school systems. What the Governor’s office has done, though, with regard to cheerleaders and dance teams is a little disheartening. Those two entities are not allowed in the gyms, and I understand that adding parents of those kids can lead to larger crowds, but we’re letting in players’ grandparents — which could theoretically be as many as eight people — and more faculty. Get the cheerleaders off the end lines and socially distance them in the bleachers in an area specifically designated for them.

I know the TSSAA wasn’t really the culprit in those situations, it’s the Governor’s office.

Spring sports nonsense, however, is all on the TSSAA… and I just can’t make it make sense.

Chris Yow is the multi-media editor of SM-Tn Sports. He can be reached at sports@sm-tnsports.com or on Twitter @ChrisYow14.

Opinion: Why wear a mask? Better safe than sorry

By Chris Yow

Southern parents tend to hand out advice in a colloquial manner. Look before you leap, still water runs deep… you get the point. The one I bring to you today is “Better safe than sorry.”

Today, I write to you about the impending disaster that looms if we don’t live by that simple piece of advice. Depending on where you might get your data — there are plenty of studies to meet your viewpoint — wearing a mask can be completely harmless to potentially killing the person wearing it.

I try to do my own independent research any time I put my opinion out into the world about a controversial matter, and I choose to err on the side of caution. Why? Because high school — and college, pro — sports must take place. Football, especially.

Two major reasons for this: Football generally underwrites the finances for a vast majority of other sports and athletic scholarships are the only avenue for a large number of students to ever attend college.

It isn’t any secret in the sports world that revenue from football gate money, concessions and other streams is passed on to supplement those “non-revenue” sports. Without an entire season of football, the likelihood of other sports being financially able to continue playing becomes grim. We’ve seen sports disappear from college campuses already. Cincinnati dropped men’s soccer, Akron eliminated three entire programs, while Forman ended its baseball and men’s lacrosse teams. 

If there is any chance for those type programs at the high school level can be salvaged, it’s by saving football. If there is any chance wearing a mask while in public can help that happen — better safe than sorry.

Additionally, there is a large number of student-athletes at high schools across the country that are depending on their hard work on the athletic fields to pay off with a college education. College athletic budgets are being slashed, scholarships cut. Uncertainty abounds in the world of sports, despite the MLB and NBA deciding to play — for now. The NFL has elected to forego its Hall of Fame game scheduled for more than a month from now. 

Without those sports being successful with their current plans, it could spell disaster.

Let me be clear that I believe college and pro football will happen. I think the money behind it is a driving factor, and Vegas doesn’t lose.  I also think public fear will affect those bottom lines. And if they do happen, high school sports must also happen — whatever it takes.

Parents will have to make that decision with their children. If their child wants to participate, parents are going to need to waive any potential lawsuits in writing. That decision to play will affect the home life of those athletes as well, which is why there must be a conversation with every single athlete and their parents.

We know TSSAA Director Bernard Childress has said there can’t be an all-or-nothing rule, so their job will also be incredibly difficult when the decision time comes. How the football season looks isn’t ultimately up to the consumer, but getting to have a season could be affected by you and me.

So, why not just take that advice you’ve heard your entire life? Better safe than sorry.

Chris Yow is the multimedia director for Southern Middle Tennessee Sports. He can be reached by email at sports@sm-tnsports.com or on Twitter at @ChrisYow14.