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TSSAA offers extended guidelines on practices for fall sports

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Brentwood Football Practice

Brentwood football players take part in a conditioning practice in June. 

As the TSSAA continues to examine how the high school athletics landscape will look next month during the COVID-19 pandemic, the state’s governing body released more detailed practice regulations this week.

The TSSAA said the regulations are “designed to help schools ensure the health and safety of the players and coaches involved in fall sports” and are in addition to the regulations in place after Gov. Bill Lee’s recent extension of Executive Order No. 38 over the continued spread of the coronavirus.

Golf, cross country and volleyball — identified as non-contact sports by the TSSAA — simply must follow local mandates regarding social distancing and cleaning protocols and can turn to the state’s guidelines for non-contact sports. The three sports can follow the normal athletic calendar, for now, the TSSAA said last week.

“Schools are expected to substantially maintain social distancing between players, coaches and spectators,” the TSSAA indicated in the new release.

Practices for contact sports girls soccer and football still look much different than usual. Per the governor’s latest order, players can’t participate with contact whatsoever.

Here’s a further breakdown for the two sports: 


Girls' Soccer 


●  Practice cannot include activities that result in sustained close proximity or physical contact between participants. Training or otherwise engaging in elements or aspects of the sport in a manner that do not involve close contact with other persons is allowed. 


●  Drills and simulations in which players are not engaged with an opponent are allowed. For these purposes, an opponent is anyone (teammate or coach) who is engaged with the player with sustained close proximity or physical contact. 


●  Scrimmages, and/or practicing with another team are not allowed under the Governor's Executive Order (No. 50/38). 


Football 


●  Practice cannot include activities that result in sustained close proximity or physical contact between participants. Training or otherwise engaging in elements or aspects of the sport in a manner that do not involve close contact with other persons is allowed. 


●  A football player cannot practice in full pads until the 5 days of heat acclimatization has been completed. This heat acclimatization process can still begin on July 20. 


●  Drills and simulations in which players are not engaged with an opponent are allowed. For these purposes, an opponent is anyone (teammate or coach) who is engaged with the player with sustained close proximity or physical contact, including contact with a blocking pad or other similar equipment being held by a coach or teammate. 


●  7-on-7, scrimmages, and/or practicing with another team are not allowed under the Governor's Executive Order (No. 50/38). 


The TSSAA decided last week to delay a potential decision on changes to the upcoming fall seasons when they met in executive session last week.

“We are working with the governor’s legal counsel and based on the conversation we are having, we think it is best to delay any vote on a contingency plan,” TSSAA Executive Director Bernard Childress said. “The governor’s legal counsel stated that they need time to observe the data and work with us.

"There will come a time when we will have to make a decision on a contingency plan, but right now it is our opinion that we need to give their legal team the opportunity to see if it is needed in girls’ soccer and football.”

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