Weather havoc… TSSAA needs to address scheduling issues with weather-postponed games

Published 1:31 pm Tuesday, September 12, 2023

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As long as I have been covering sports, I cannot remember a team having to play football on a Sunday afternoon due to games that were impacted by weather delays, more specifically, those that involve lightning delays that wash out a complete evening of football.
The Elizabethton Cyclones have seen two games that have been impacted, including ending the Morristown West game with 9:18 left in the fourth quarter and most recently Friday night as the Cherokee game was ultimately moved to Sunday.
Its understandable that all measures should be taken to protect athletes, coaches, cheerleaders, band, and fans, but when teams are allowed to make a decision on which games they will play and which ones they can work around, something is broken with the system.
Case in point – the Cyclones and Chiefs played on Sunday to make up the game from Friday, as it was a conference matchup. Football on Sunday is nothing unusual as the NFL and some colleges play games on Sunday; however, high school teams normally don’t expect to see the field.
Both teams were expecting to turn around and prepare to play again Friday night with the Cyclones hosting the first of only four home games against Daniel Boone.
Well, imagine the surprise when Elizabethton finds out that Daniel Boone has canceled their game with the Cyclones because they are going to play Morristown West on Thursday night because they are stormed out on Friday night.
From the outside looking in, this looks like nothing more than Daniel Boone and Morristown West attempting to sidestep two of the top teams in Class 4-A in Elizabethton and Greeneville who the Trojans were scheduled to play this Friday night.
This is the third game that Greeneville has been impacted by the weather as their game with Dobyns-Bennett was declared a no-contest with the game even at 14-14 in the second quarter, last week against Alcoa on Thursday night in the same situation with a tie ball game in the first half, and now this week where their game against West has been canceled.
These are just two instances but I am sure there are other schools out there facing the same adversity.
Here is what this situation does – since the TSSAA does not have a solid plan in play for these games, the Cyclones lose one of their four home games, cheating the seniors out of the opportunity to play on the turf at Citizens Bank Stadium, leaving fans holding season tickets that cost $65 each meaning that they have paid basically $22-plus per game to have a reserved seat for the 2023 season, and reducing the amount of concession money used by the band boosters to help in sending the band to competitions and other events.
Now, take into consideration that the TSSAA doesn’t get any cut off of ticket sales during the regular season, one can see where there’s no skin off their backs in allowing this to happen, but I can guarantee if this was the first round of the playoffs, there would be no question these games would be played because this is where the TSSAA makes bank taking almost 50 percent of the proceeds and allowing the two participating schools to split the remaining gate.
These athletes deserve the opportunity to play every game as football is unlike basketball and baseball, where teams play up to 25 to 30 games. For football, normally, 10 games is what most play unless they are blessed to have a great season and reach the playoffs, at which time they might have up to 15 games in the season if they can reach the state title game.
Kudos have to be given to the Elizabethton Athletic Department and administrators for attempting to get a substitution game or wrangling games around to have an opponent to match up with.
The problem is that most teams have already set their schedules and besides that, who wants to take on a team that is rolling like the Cyclones currently are?
Still, the TSSAA owes it to its member schools not to allow coaches to say they have something to do or that Tennessee is playing a big game to dictate whether they need to get the games in as soon as possible.
Boone and Morristown West should have been told they need to get their games in by Sunday, just like some did on Sunday or they will have to play back-to-back nights during the week.
Or at the least, they must double-forfeit even if it’s a conference game and play the scheduled game that is on deck for the upcoming  Friday night. The double forfeits would definitely perk up the team’s willingness to work something out to get the games in without costing their upcoming opponent a lost game.
Something needs to be done by the TSSAA and that’ not making thoughtless decisions from the comfort of their couches while enjoying a bag of popcorn and a Coke when teams are waiting to hear a decision on games under weather delays.
Those terms need to be dictated in writing prior to the season and how games will be handled should they encounter bad weather. This is just one writer’s opinion and I am sticking to it.

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