I’m going to repeat myself. I try not to do that, but last week’s column now appears to have contained such important information that it bears repeating.
Last week, the TSSAA outlined the plans for resuming high school fall sports. It was presumed that some form of high school sports would be allowed, but we didn’t know what it would look like.
Now we know. Girls soccer teams can resume their season as planned beginning on Sept. 7. Football will play an eight-game regular season and a four-game playoff. Beyond that, the basic rules include the following:
1. Daily temperature checks on everyone. A player or coach that has tested positive cannot return until they get a negative COVID-19 test or have medical clearance.
2. Every week, every player and coach will complete a COVID-19 screening questionnaire.
3. No scrimmages or jamborees will be allowed. The OrthoTennessee-Maryville Football Jamboree had already been canceled.
4. At games, everyone must have their temperature checked. That includes fans, students, officials, medical staff, coaches, players, members of the media — everybody in the facility. No exceptions. Those with a temperature greater than 100.4 degrees will be turned away.
5. Schools are encouraged to limit game attendance to a number that will allow physical and social distancing. The TSSAA is encouraging 1/4 to 1/3 capacity.
6. Concessions are discouraged.
7. All coaches must complete the NFHS online COVID-19 course.
8. All fans must wear masks.
Let me repeat that last one. ALL FANS MUST WEAR MASKS. So, if you want to see a game, you will wear a mask or hope that it is on TV.
Just this week, I’ve heard of some ugly incidents as more and more places are requiring masks. People showing up and refusing to wear a mask.
Folks, just like speed limits, child restraints in cars and seat belts, this is not an infringement on your personal rights, this is for the safety of yourself and others. That minimum-wage worker at the door of your favorite store is just enforcing the rules, doing their job. The volunteer worker at the game you want to attend just has a job to do.
But here’s the thing — if you want those games to occur, you will follow those rules and you will follow those rules and more at home. Just think about the impact of even just one athlete on a team testing positive for COVID-19.
Our goal, as the athletic trainers serving these teams, is to have zero cases of COVID-19. Zero. To that end, we will strictly enforce hand washing, temperature checks and any other method we can find to detect sick athletes. As much as we can, we will encourage the use of masks, physical distancing and sanitary practices.
But zero cases is an impossible goal. The virus is too prevalent now, and here’s where you come in. It is your responsibility to keep those athletes healthy and safe. Family, friends, pretty much everyone in the community. That means you do those same things: wash your hands, practice social distancing, wear a mask.
I’m not arguing the mask thing.
Science says it helps. Politicians say maybe. Your neighbor says you’re infringing on their rights. I’m wearing a mask.
Some are saying that it really isn’t that dangerous (“no worse than the flu”). Hogwash. You can say that until someone you know dies.
Until it touches you in some way, you can believe that.
Then you will know better.
If we are going to keep our kids safe as they return to school and our athletes safe as they return to sports, then it will take all of us doing all we can do.