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Lasting effects of COVID-19 and sports programs

By Beth Cox
Sports Writer

Nobody wants to talk about it, but every sports fan is thinking about it. Will sports be interrupted again this year by the virus? Many ask if sports is really a concern in a time like this. The answer is yes, it is. More than ever, we want to find our “normal” again, and for many, it involves sports.
With the memory of last year’s COVID season behind us, teams are gearing up, ready and excited about the upcoming fall sports season, leaving the pandemic blowing in the wind.

Sadly, however, COVID-19 remains in the wind and in the community, which could potentially strike a blow to this year’s sports season as well. It is not the news anyone wants to hear, but with an increase in numbers relating to the virus around the country and in our small community, there could be potentially tough decisions ahead for sports programs across the state.

Happy Valley High School has reported multiple cases since school started three days ago. This week alone, hospitalization due to COVID has jumped from 1,176 on August 1 to 1,702 as of August 8. TSSAA’s Tennessee Returns to Play has listed COVID-19 Policies and Guidelines for TSSAA/TMSAA members; basically, they recommend the CDC guidelines for face covering and social distancing and quarantining after a positive COVID-19 test.

Johnson County Schools has no COVID-19 guidelines at this time but frequently check for up-to-date information about any changes. Many teams still feel the aftermath of last year’s pandemic, especially the non-revenue sports programs that rely heavily on fundraising events that help support certain teams. According to Volleyball Coach Michele Cooke, fundraising dropped dramatically due to COVID-19. The volleyball team depends on fundraising, but the volleyball program has taken a financial hit due to restrictions because of this virus. Cooke said that the Lady Longhorns recently had a t-shirt fundraiser, and it helped, but more money is needed for the program.

“If you want to support or donate, now would be a good time,” she said.

Other teams that need a solid stream of funding to stay afloat concur with Cooke’s sentiments. Unfortunately, this virus is with us and has affected us in ways we can’t fully understand, so it is essential to stay up to date on new information regarding COVID-19. The Johnson County School website and the Tennessee Department of Health are two great resources for up-to-date information. TSSAA also provides information regarding the virus and Tennessee sports programs.