By JESSE SMITHEY
With his Executive Order 70 set to expire at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, Tennessee governor Bill Lee extended said order with his newly minted Executive Order 74 that amended his original stance to allow for a few more people to attend high school sporting events.
To help further combat the spreading of Covid-19 in Tennessee, Lee enacted Executive Order 70 on Dec. 20.
One of its restrictions was targeting and reducing the attendance at current in-season high school sporting events like basketball, bowling and wrestling. Under Executive Order 70, Lee and the TSSAA asked that only players, coaches, team staff, immediate family members and guardians, school/game administration, media members, first responders and game officials to be allowed from Dec. 21 until Jan. 19, the order’s original expiration date.
While that list of allowed persons will still hold true under Executive 74, Lee softened the order a touch on Tuesday to allow for players’ grandparents and also school faculty/teachers to attend.
Executive Order 74 will be effective through Feb. 27, 2021. Fans, cheerleaders, band members are still not permitted, per EO 74.
Per the TSSAA release Tuesday night, the association stated that it “inquired about allowing cheerleaders and dance teams to participate, but the amended Order (from the governor) maintains the temporary suspension of cheerleading and dance at contests. Our understanding from the Governor’s Office is that this provision was a risk-based decision at this critical time based on the best medical and CDC information and guidance available regarding the spread of Covid-19 primarily through respiratory droplets, with cheerleading posing a particularly high degree of risk because it involves projected voices within a confined indoor space for an extended period of time.”
High school basketball is trying to see its season reach a conclusion, which it was not fully able to do in 2019-20. While the Division II state basketball championships were able to be held in their entirety March 5-7 at Lipscomb University in Nashville, the TSSAA pressed pause on the Division I girls’ state tournament before the semifinal round the following week at the Murphy Center in Murfreesboro as Covid-19 concerns escalated nationwide. That girls tournament never resumed and the Division I boys’ tournament never commenced.
The TSSAA Board of Control met virtually last week and executive director Bernard Childress informed the board that a contingency plan is in place should Middle Tennessee State and Lipscomb not be able to fulfill their roles as host sites of the Division I and II state tournaments, respectively. That contingency plan included having Murfreesboro-area high schools host the tournaments, much like they did during volleyball season in the fall.