Tennessee offers options for 2020 high school football season after delaying start of the season

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There is still a lot up-in-the-air when it comes to the 2020 high school football season, but in Tennessee, officials are acting quickly to come-up with alternative plans after delaying the start of the season earlier this week.

Related: Tennessee delays start of 2020 season

On Wednesday, the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association held a special meeting to discuss next steps for football and all Fall sports. First and foremost, the Board voted unanimously to mandate that member schools follow the Governor’s executive order for sports activities.

Below are the options for the 2020 season presented at Wednesday’s meeting:

The TSSAA Board of Control held a special called meeting on Wednesday, July 1, 2020 to discuss the effect that the extended COVID-19 State of Emergency will have on contact sports in the fall. Football, girls’ soccer and competitive cheer are considered contact sports.

The Board voted unanimously to mandate that member schools follow the Governor’s executive order for sports activities.

Bernard Childress, Executive Director, briefed the Board on what schools are permitted to do after the Dead Period. A detailed document outlining COVID-19 accommodations for sport competitions will be sent to the membership prior to each season.

Only weightlifting, conditioning and fundamental work with no contact is permitted for football, soccer, girls’ soccer, wrestling, basketball and competitive cheer. Football will not be permitted to participate in “7-on-7” competitions due to the extended State of Emergency. Cross country, golf and volleyball will be able to continue, with accommodations, as scheduled. While the association does not sanction cheerleading, it does offer a competitive cheer and dance championship and competitive cheer would fall under the Governor’s order impacting contact sports.

Regarding girls’ soccer, the state office is exploring postponing the state championship to allow a few additional weeks for the regular season. Practice could begin on August 30, with the potential to extend the season and conduct the state championships a few weeks later than usual.

Four plans for football were discussed. Those plans are as follows:

  1. If the executive order expires on Aug. 29, practice would begin on Aug. 30 with the first game on Sept. 18. All regular season schedules for schools would be replaced by the state office with a seven-week region schedule for all schools. Playoffs would be conducted as usual, but schools that do not make the playoffs would be able to play two extra games after the regular season.
  2. If the executive order expires on Aug. 29, practice could begin on Aug. 30 with the first game on Sept. 18. All regular season schedules for schools would be replaced by the state office with an eight-week region schedule. The regular season would extend into Week 12 and the first-round of the playoffs would be eliminated (only region champions and runners-up would qualify). Teams that do not qualify for the playoffs would be able to play two extra games after the regular season.
  3. If the executive order expires on Aug. 29, practice would begin on Aug. 30 with the first game on Sept. 18. Schools would keep their current schedule and begin play with the Week 5 game on September 18. Games scheduled against member schools for Week 3 would be played in Week 12. Games scheduled against member schools for Week 4 would be played in Week 13. Only region champions would advance to the playoffs beginning in Week 14. Schools that do not qualify for the playoffs would be able to play one extra game.
  4. Cancel playoffs and championships. Start practice on August 30. Schools play games as scheduled beginning with Week 5 games on September 18. Move games against member schools from Weeks 1-4 to Weeks 12-15.

The Board will meet again on July 8 to make a decision regarding football.

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About the Author

Jeff Fisher
Jeff is an award-winning journalist and expert in the field of high school sports, underscored with his appearance on CNBC in 2010 to talk about the big business of high school football in America. Jeff turned to his passion for high school football into an entrepreneurial venture called High School Football America, a digital media company focused on producing original high school sports content for radio, television and the internet. Jeff is co-founder and editor-in-chief of High School Football America, which is a media partner with USA TODAY High School Sports.