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The Extra Point

No cheers for state, TSSAA

Chris Siers
Posted 12/29/20

On Monday, Governor Bill Lee signed Executive Order No. 70, which goes into effect through January 19. The executive order directly impacts athletics during the ongoing pandemic. The past few weeks have seen a distinct surge in COVID-19 cases and as such, the governor directly addressed the possible exposure point of high school athletics...

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The Extra Point

No cheers for state, TSSAA

Posted

On Monday, Governor Bill Lee signed Executive Order No. 70, which goes into effect through January 19.

The executive order directly impacts athletics during the ongoing pandemic.

The past few weeks have seen a distinct surge in COVID-19 cases and as such, the governor directly addressed the possible exposure point of high school athletics.

While attendance at games has been limited as is, schools have opted for online presales to help limit fan attendance.

Schools have also established temperature checks and anyone who has a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher is not allowed entry.

Masks and social distancing have also been implemented by the school systems.

Even with these enhanced safety measures that have been in place for the previous four month and spanning other sports, it seems now the TSSAA and governor have decided to take the fight to COVID one step farther.

Executive Order No. 70 further restricts fan attendance.

The order restricts attendees to players' parents or guardians and immediate household members, first responders, coaching and team personnel, school, game and facility administrators, athletics officials and media members attending in a professional capacity.

Interestingly enough, the executive action explicitly states that bands, pep bands, cheerleaders and dance teams may not attend the athletic contests while the restrictions remain in place.

Does the governor's office not realize that both cheerleading and dance are recognized by the TSSAA as varsity sports?

How much sense does it make to allow basketball games to be played on a court, but to say another TSSAA recognized sport cannot take place in the same arena?

I understand there are restrictions that need to be in place to allow kids to participate as safely as possible in a global pandemic.

The governor's office needs to confer with the TSSAA and both cheerleading and dance need to be immediately included in the sports allowed, so long as sports are allowed to continue.

There are two major sports that cheerleading associates with—football and basketball.

While it's entirely an unprecedented era and safety has to take the utmost priority, schools are now forced to tell athletes they cannot participate because of Executive Order No. 70.

In the memo released by the TSSAA on Monday, it is stated the governor's office conferred with the TSSAA.

The onus falls on both entities.

If basketball is allowed to continue and can follow the state regulations for safe participation, why are two varsity sports, which I again state, are recognized by the TSSAA forbidden from participation?

If athletics in their entirety are shut down, then it makes sense to not allow cheerleading and dance to compete.

But that's not what this says.

We've got one chance to get it right during this pandemic.

Fall sports have shown that we can navigate this pandemic safely and still allow kids to live their lives and fully participate in their chosen sports.

Think of the seniors who are suddenly seeing half of their season cut short, while allowing other seniors to continue participation.

How is that fair?

Hopefully the governor's office can revisit this issue and understand the hypocrisy of allowing one TSSAA recognized sport to continue in the same arena they're prohibiting another.

Chris Siers is sports editor of the Times-Gazette. Email him at sports@t-g.com.

Chris Siers is sports editor of the Times-Gazette.

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