Are we doing everything possible to keep our players playing?

Published 4:11 pm Thursday, September 3, 2020

It was refreshing to see a writing colleague, Allen Gregory with the Bristol Herald, compliment Elizabethton’s effort to follow COVID-19 protocol during the Cyclones game with Sullivan East.
Gregory made some nice points in his article but it really got me thinking if Northeast Tennessee schools and particularly their fans (which mainly are parents, grandparents, and immediate family of players, cheerleaders, and band) are truly doing everything they need to in making sure that athletes will be able to complete the season.
This week already there are schools like Union County (in Elizabethton’s region), Sullivan North, Sunbright, and Dickson County have had to postpone games due to COVID-19. Knox Bearden is getting to play their first game against Dobyns-Bennett on Friday after being quarantined two weeks to begin the season.
Where these cases originated is hard to pinpoint but more than likely it is from either a family member or a teammate who has had contact with someone close to them.
The one thing that I find intriguing is the kickback that is being given at the Cyclone sporting events whether it is soccer, football, or volleyball as the Elizabethton community is doing everything that has been asked by the Elizabethton City Schools and the TSSAA to make sure that Cyclone athletes can continue their seasons.
One of those involved a fan from Sullivan East attending the Elizabethton and Sullivan East junior varsity contest on Monday. Cyclone athletic director Forrest Holt has done a tremendous job in making sure that everyone has their temperature checked and are wearing a mask when they enter the gates at Citizens Bank Stadium.
However, one Patriot fan took issue to Holt requesting him to put on a mask and made a small scene with Holt as the AD did well to be respectable to the gentleman. The fan walked on I looked during the contest and still no mask.
Meanwhile, another Patriot fan had an issue with Holt taking her temperature. It might be worthwhile to thank Holt and his team for the hard work and absorbing such ridicule in doing only what has been required by the TSSAA.
Not only these two, I might add, but probably about 85 percent of the Patriot fans did not have masks on either.
Now, first and foremost, this article is not to CONDEMN anyone because these folks are as fine a people as you would find in Elizabethton or any other community in the Tri-Cities area and I have the utmost respect for Sullivan East High School community.
Don’t hit Facebook saying that the Elizabethton Star Sports Editor is calling people out because this is not intended to do that – it hopefully will challenge ALL of us to see if we are doing what we should be doing.
After all, rules are rules and as parents, we teach children they are to obey our rules or they will face the consequences. Yet, are we setting the example?
However, the rules in place are not there by choice of Holt or any other athletic director in Tennessee but have been put in place by the TSSAA – the governing body of high school athletics in Tennessee as part of the regulations required for athletics to proceed.
I thought it would be worthy of sharing the wording on temperature checks, face-cover wearing, and social distancing from the TSSAA website as a reminder to everyone that what is being asked is for the protection and safety of everyone involved including the coaches, athletes, cheerleaders, and band members plus those sitting next to you.
Taken from the TSSAA website:
*Temperature check required for entry. No one whose temperature measures above 100.4°F will be permitted to enter.
*All spectators must wear masks and maintain social distancing* from anyone other than those living in the same household. * Six feet, or the equivalent of two empty seats between themselves and other fans.
These rules are not from Holt, Jason Jarrett, Dewayne Humphrey, Aaron Dugger, or Scott Potter in the county – these are mandates given by TSSAA.
Add to that the mask mandate in place not only in Carter County but Sullivan, Washington, Hawkins, and Unicoi County, and that request is issued by county governments.
It is interesting to hear the argument that people’s rights are being taken away by requiring these measures but anyone that has common sense can figure out that it is only for the safety of those around you and more specifically your children and their team.
After all the AD’s are not trying to take your guns – they are just protecting the kids that you come to support. If you think that these regulations are being adhered too, simply turn on Touchdown Friday Night on WJHL or whatever your favorite local sports station is at 11 pm on Friday nights and watch the highlights.
It is eye-opening.
As a journalist on the sideline, I am wearing my mask and have been asked to walk completely around the stadium during Friday night Cyclone football games to get to the other end of the field and not walk behind the team.
I must admit that the second part of that request is very aggravating but I will assure you that since Holt has asked me to do so I will follow his directions.
Why – because even though these kids are not my kids by blood, I will do everything in my power to make sure that they can enjoy their season and complete it.
This is one crazy year but I have found that I am grateful that administrators have gone above and beyond to ensure that sports can be played.
Are you doing your part and if not, the question is why?

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