An on-time start is still on the table, but after no vote, what’s next?

Could no news really be good news? Possibly.

The TSSAA was slated to vote on which contingency plan they were to use for the 2020 season on Wednesday, but after a 13-minute public session, nothing new emerged.

The TSSAA postponed any voting on Wednesday, citing additional discussions with Gov. Bill Lee’s task force and legal counsel. On the surface, that appears to be a good thing – they are discussing granting the exemption given to professional and college sports, which would allow for everything to begin as originally scheduled.

But the coaches are spinning their wheels. They haven’t been given any direction, only that things are continuing under the current orders from the governor’s office – no contact. If there is going to be a contingency plan, that needs to be voted on as soon as possible to give them as much runway as possible for an alternate schedule. They need as much time as possible if they must reschedule non-region games.

There are two key dates to keep in mind in regards to an on-time start: the first is July 20, when teams would be beginning the acclimation period in shells (helmets and shoulder pads) and remaining in those for a week. Then, on July 27, full-pad practices would begin (if the exemption was granted), leading up to scrimmages and Week 1 as scheduled.

Though it appears there’s the potential of an on-time start, it has to come from the governor’s office. That plan is not a new one – it’s been on the table since the previous meeting on July 1, so it’s not new information. It’s a lot of eggs to put in one basket. However, the lack of direction is unfair to teams. And that’s not the worst part.

The worst part is all of today’s decisions were made in an executive session before the public meeting began – 23 minutes late, mind you. No discussion or vote between the board members during the public portion of the meeting. That’s disrespectful to the people who have such a high investment in high school sports (soccer, too, not just football). They deserve transparency and that was not in attendance Wednesday.

Here’s what I would have said if that was the decision to be made today: “Our primary focus is still starting on time, as that is the best possible course of action for everyone involved. We are still having conversations with the governor’s office about being granted the exemption along with professional and college sports. That is still a possibility. Therefore, we are postponing the vote on a contingency schedule until (X date). We will vote on or before that date. We understand that this is frustrating for coaches and teams, but we advise you to continue as you are currently further notice. If we are granted the exemption before the vote, we will communicate as such to you as soon as possible.”

In sales, this is called an up-front contract. Plan your next action and communicate it clearly. Then, follow up on it. These coaches and teams need to know what the plan is (or isn’t) and begin to move forward. For now, everything is stuck in neutral.

I give the TSSAA credit for doing all they can to get a full season in without interruptions. They should get credit for that. Their execution of the plan on Wednesday left a lot to be desired, however.

Let’s hope no news turns out to be good news in 2020.

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