Parents, players react to TSSAA fall sport regulations and contingency plan for football

High School

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE)- The TSSAA passed 12 regulations regarding fall sports this year, along with contingency plans for football and girls soccer, providing area coaches, players, and parents with some clarity while they wait for definite answers.

While having question marks surround the upcoming high school football season is “frustrating,” as West High School quarterback Baker Dance notes, the regulations and contingency plan provides players, like himself, and parents some comfort.

“It makes you feel great because you can tell they’ve thought through everything and they’ve got all options on the table and they’re really trying hard to do everything they can to get a season to happen,” says the senior West quarterback.

Jed Dance is a father of two football players at West, including Baker, and says his only concern is if they do not play football.

“I think there’s a lot of research out there that shows sports and back in school especially at a high school level it’s pretty important and if you can’t play there are a lot of other ramifications besides COVID,” says Jed referencing mental health concerns, “So I think they’re doing everything they can to play and that’s obvious.”

However, some of the regulations like eliminating scrimmages, jamborees, 7-on-7 practices, or any other types of practices with other teams cause concern when it comes to inexperienced players.

Baker says he and his team will do “whatever to play” but no scrimmaging is “kind of concerning” as it’s good for guys moving up from JV to varsity to experience game speed and action. “

Their [inexperienced players] first game will be the first time having live experience, so that’ll be difficult this year,” said Baker.

The changes to the regular and postseason that come with the 2 contingency plan with a hybrid option are disheartening for Baker as a senior.

“A lot of times your out of conference games are your rivalry games again cross-town rivals so not getting to play those would be weird,” says the senior quarterback, “Cutting down playoffs will make every game matter even more especially in a  competitive region like ours. It’s going to matter a lot more.”

Regardless of the changes, the father and son duo ultimately want a season to be played safely.

For Niki and Terry Martin their son J.T. is gearing up to play his first year of high school football at Austin-East. While having their child play amid coronavirus concerns, the regulations laid out by the TSSAA provides a sense of comfort.

“I personally feel pretty good about it it’s all about the safety of the kids, the staff, and everyone around, so I’m definitely  on board with the safety regulations,” says Niki noting her main concern is if coaches and players start letting up on the regulations.

Terry echoes Niki’s statement saying it seems like the TSSAA put a lot of thought and effort into forming the contingency plan and regulations for fall sports and working hard to try and make a season happen.

“That makes you feel comfortable that they are trying to think of the kids because we know football means a lot, especially for the psyche of the kid,” said Terry.

Even with a limited number of fans in the stands, who will be socially distanced and wearing face masks according to regulation no. 6, the Martin’s say they will show up to every game that they can to support their son and his teammates.

“I’ll wear a trash-bag if I have to,” says Terry on doing whatever he needs to support his son.

Julie Romanszky’s son Kenneth Orozco is also gearing up to play his first high school football season for Carter. Her daughter graduated this year and recalls that families had to social distance in the stands for the ceremony. If a season is played this year, Romanszky says she’s not concerned about fans social distancing and wearing masks as she saw the community come together and do their part at graduation.

While COVID-19 will remain a lingering concern, Romanszky and Kenneth Orozco feel safer with the new regulations in place.

The question remains to whether or not a football season will be played this year, but the regulations and contingency plans for football and girl’s soccer the TSSAA BOC voted on provides a roadmap for the fall.

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