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TSSAA approves football, girls soccer plans and adopts new safety regulations

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The high school football and girls soccer seasons received potential start dates, while the TSSAA Board of Control also approved a network of new regulations Wednesday during a lengthy and highly anticipated meeting in Murfreesboro.

In the midst of the confusing contingency plans and the introduction of a new “hybrid” option for football, the two sports still don’t have a cemented start date and instead have potential ones hinging directly on Gov. Bill Lee’s COVID-19 emergency order set to expire on Aug. 29.

"Regardless of when we start, you're going to be given three weeks to practice,” TSSAA Executive Director Bernard Childress said in regards to football. “You can't do anything different than we can do right now because we're still under the emergency order."

For those pigskin followers, if the governor’s order doesn’t change, practices will begin Aug. 30 and football teams will have their first games on Sept. 18 with an eight-week region schedule set by the TSSAA. The regular season would extend into Week 12 with the first round of playoffs being eliminated meaning only region winners and runners-up would qualify for the postseason. At the same time, teams who don’t make the playoffs can still schedule two extra games after the regular season ends for a “fuller” season.

The hybrid side of things kicks in if Gov. Lee allows play to occur sooner with adjustments coming on the fly essentially depending on the dates. To top it off, if the governor were to rescind his order before Aug. 3, the season could still begin as originally planned with only the new safety regulations put in place because of the pandemic.

“Our goal is to have an ordinary season, as much as possible,” Childress said.

Switching over to the pitch, girls soccer is eyeing a Sept. 7 start if the governor’s current order stays in place. This change from the original start date of mid-August includes bumping the state soccer championships back two weeks to Nov. 11-14 and similarly to football, teams that don’t qualify for the playoffs or are eliminated early can add extra matches.

“This gives more flexibility for folks to maximize and get in as many games as they can,” TSSAA Assistant Executive Director Mark Reeves said.

If the governor’s order is lifted before Aug. 10, the regular schedule can be applied to girls soccer with first matches allowed by Aug. 17.

Early in the meeting, COVID-19 safety parameters dominated discussion with the board eventually adopting 12 new regulations for the entire school year. The entire list of new regulations can be found by clicking here

Regulations include temperature checks for all players, coaches and team personnel prior to practices; no scrimmages or jamborees will be allowed; schools are encouraged to limit fan attendance and will require all fans to wear facial coverings with the exception for kids under 2-years-old; and concession stands are discouraged, among others.

This is a developing story with updates to be added. 

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