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TSSAA issues memo on crowd control

With postseason basketball in full swing, TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress is looking to remind schools that protocols are still in place for crowd control. This includes mask requirements, social distancing in the stands and limiting capacities at games.

Warren County came under fire this week after the District 6AAA boys finals were held at Charlie Dalton Gym. The game between the Pioneers and Warriors was a classic, bringing a huge and vocal crowd that saw Warren County claim its second straight district title. During the game, some photos circulated on social media of the crowd.

Members of the TSSAA board of control received the pictures of the event and, days later, Childress was issuing a statement to all members schools.

“We are asking every school administrator to review the TSSAA COVID-19 guidelines and make sure that your school is in compliance at all times. We continue to get pictures and videos of crowds where gymnasiums are too full, individuals are not wearing masks as required, and physical distancing is not taking place,” Childress’ memo stated. “This is only hurting our kids, and each incident lessens the chance of us completing our winter season and having a spring season.”

Warren County is set to be back at home Saturday at 7 p.m. for a region quarterfinal matchup against McMinn County. Since Feb. 1, when Gov. Bill Lee lifted some attendance restrictions, 600 fans have been allowed to attend games at Charlie Dalton Gym.

Saturday’s game has already sold out, though less than 600 tickets were issued for purchase.

“We did cut back the number of tickets based on the number of people who showed up Tuesday,” said Director of Schools Grant Swallows.

Throughout Thursday, GoFan had intermittent tickets available for the game. Warren County High School athletic director Todd Willmore says the game is fully sold out now.

Tickets were made available in limited capacities late Wednesday night and early Thursday, spread out in hopes of avoiding bulk purchasing.

“We had people buying more tickets than they should. This allowed us to release some more tickets in increments up to 1/3 capacity,” said Swallows.

The Warren County Sports Authority is giving away three pairs of tickets to the game.

Warren County, like the rest of the state and nation, has seen COVID numbers drop dramatically in the last two months. As of Wednesday, Warren County had a seven-day average of new cases of 2.4 cases per day, its lowest since July. The latest reporting has Warren County reporting only 17 new cases since Feb. 16.

Childress also addressed the efforts schools have made to get to this point.

“First of all, we want to thank all of our administrators, coaches, and fans in our member schools who strive every day to make sure your athletic community is following the COVID-19 Guidelines approved by the TSSAA Board of Control. The purpose of this memo is to remind everyone that all of the guidelines put together by our staff in conjunction with the Governor’s Team must be taken seriously and enforced if we plan to continue having middle and high school sports in our state this school year,” said Childress.

Spring sports are right around the corner, with the Pioneer baseball, boys soccer, softball and tennis teams all set to begin their season Monday, March 15. Childress believes its important to keep the rules in place to make sure those sports – who lost their season last year – get to play this time around.

“Our entire organization was founded and built on the fact that we care for the future of young people, and we all want to set a positive example by doing things the right way. Now is the time for all of us to step up and do what the guidelines state. We cannot leave it to others and ignore our own if we want to safely navigate the remainder of the winter season and have a successful spring sports season,’ said Childress. “We have come too far to let our guard down now!”

Warren County High School, WCS-TV and BLTV have partnered again to broadcast the region quarterfinals Saturday night. For those who don't have BLTV, the game will be available on YouTube at:


Warren County Sports Authority Editor-in-Chief Jeffery Simmons knew Tuesday night the state was aware of the crowd at Charlie Dalton Gym. Before the memo was issued Thursday, he tackled the issue with a series of tweets:

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