The glimmer of hope for prep spring sports to be played in Tennessee is getting dimmer for TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress.
On Wednesday, governors in Alabama and Georgia announced that, due to concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, school systems would remain closed for the remainder of the semester, thus ending all spring sports for those states' main athletic associations.
One day later, and on the heels of Gov. Bill Lee's order mandating all Tennesseans "stay home," Childress said the state's high school sports governing body is still holding out hope - but he admitted the window for playing either the boys' or girls' basketball state tournaments or any spring sports is rapidly closing.
"We are still sticking with our plan to wait and see what the governor and the medical experts say is best before making any decisions," Childress said. "It does feel like it gets dimmer and dimmer by the day, and we're not as optimistic as we were two weeks ago.
"It's not time to give up yet. These kids have worked so hard to get to this point, so we have to do the same. If it does come about that we have to cancel the seasons, then at least we know we've done the best we can. The decision is going to be dictated to us. We're an organization of schools, an extension of the school day, so if schools are not in session our members won't be able to play."
Two weeks ago, the TSSAA Board of Control voted unanimously to approve recommendations by Childress to postpone the basketball tournaments for public schools, rather than cancel them outright, and to push back the dates of the Spring Fling - the state championship events for baseball, soccer, softball, tennis and track and field - from May 19-22 into June if necessary, provided the health concern subsides.
However, with concerns continuing to grow, spring sports seem less likely to be played and Childress added that now the TSSAA is even discussing an abbreviated football season, as well as other fall sports, should the spread of coronavirus remain a concern into the summer.
"We are concerned for football, absolutely," Childress said. "Are we going to lose some of our fall sports season? Do we need to start pushing some of that back? Those are things we're looking at now, and honestly I wouldn't be surprised if it comes to that."