FILE – McMinn volleyball

Just as all Tennessee schools are doing, McMinn County is figuring out how to implement the TSSAA COVID-19 regulations for all sports this academic year.

New McMinn County Athletic Director Bo Cagle has picked an interesting time to add new job responsibilities.

If there is going to be a fall sports season, Cagle will have to decide how to proceed in the face of mandates and recommendations from the Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association (TSSAA). The TSSAA is mandating that all fans have their temperature checked, with anybody reading a fever of 100.4 or higher being denied entry. Facemasks are required.

Limiting attendance to allow for social distancing is encouraged and concession stands are discouraged.

With two highs schools in McMinn County, Cagle said countywide regulations should be formulated.

“Somebody is going to have to tell us what to do,” Cagle said.

“We are not going to sit here and make the rules. Central could say we are going to allow 50% capacity and then us 25% and everything be different. That wouldn’t make sense. I’m sure we will have a policy to take care of the whole county.”

Cagle said, which all athletic directors know, playing sports safely while following the TSSAA’s mandates and recommendations will be difficult.

“If we implement some of that stuff, then there is a whole lot that people don’t think about. Are we going to give the visitors any tickets at all? Do you up tickets prices? Do you honor season tickets?

“What if we sell 25% (capacity) in season tickets, then you have parents not being able to get into games to see their kids. None of it is fair.”

Meigs and Central, while saying things could change a lot between now and the start of fall sports, have outlined some of what they plan to do.

Meigs currently plans to only sell tickets during the week and not sell any on game day. Central plans to push for the purchase of season tickets.

Cagle noted that McMinn has a lot of standing room so capacity may not be as limited as first thought.

“We’ve got standing room all over the place,” Cagle said. “I don’t think it’s fair to just look at our stadium seats when you can social distance all over our place and watch the game.”

Cagle said schools can try to follow all the guidelines, mandates and regulations, but enforcing those policies on all the fans will be difficult.

For example, fans are required to wear masks, but what if they take their masks off after they go through the gate? Cagle believes most people will do the right thing, but there will always be a few who don’t.

The bottom line is that fans will have to decide for themselves whether to go to games.

“There is a risk involved,” Cagle said. “You need to know the risk and this (recommendations) reduces your risk and if you don’t want to follow it and get sick … we can all choose, I guess.”

While golf and volleyball start soon, Cagle doesn’t believe they will be as big a problem because McMinn has such a large gym for volleyball. Golf is played outside and it is easy to social distance.

Cagle did add, however, that not having football or limiting attendance so much that schools don’t make much money will hurt all sports because football helps fund all the other sports.

Football will be the biggest issue.

Cagle emphasized, however, there is plenty of time for things to change between now and the start of football.

“I think we will play,” Cagle said.

“I have to believe that. I don’t think there’s any other way I could go back to prepare to play if I didn’t think we would play. I really think we will play. But there is a lot of things that have to happen before that day.”

Cagle is optimistic that everything will work out.

“I think all the things we are worried about, scared about, uncertain about, all those things will be cleared up before we play,” Cagle said. “I believe that too. Everything is uncertain right now, but I think it will be clear before we suit up on Friday night, how we can be safe and (play) too.

But with all the uncertainty Cagle said it’s impossible to make firm plans.

“I’m not planning on anything,” Cagle said. “Right now, I’m just planning on getting our kids prepared in an uncertain time. It’s such a hard time to just figure out what we are supposed to be doing.”

Email: scott.power@

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