BY JASMINE WILLIAMS
NASHVILLE (January 28) – For many months, fans of local sports teams have struggled to see games in person. Many have relied on Facebook live streams to watch their favorite basketball teams play. As of Thursday, January 28, fans have a better opportunity to cheer on their favorite teams from the stands. Executive Order No. 75, signed by Governor Bill Lee Thursday, lifted restrictions on fan attendance of sporting events.
Lee’s Executive Order No. 74, which placed restrictions on sporting events attendance, stated schools could continue to have sporting events, but they needed to implement new guidelines. It allowed for school officials, team officials, press, first responders, scouts, parents, grandparents, guardians, and those who were in the immediate household to attend games, but no others. It also stated that fan attendance could not exceed a capacity that made social distancing impossible.
Households had to sit together and six feet away from other fans. It was also originally stated restrictions were in effect until February 27, 2021.
Lee’s most recent Executive Order expired the restrictions on January 31.
In this order, Lee states, “… thanks in large part to Tennesseans making responsible choices to protect themselves and their communities, and it is therefore appropriate to end the temporary additional limitations …”
Many were pleased to hear about the recent changes to fan attendance.
“We’re proud that our member schools have been taking steps to follow the Governor’s orders and limit the spread of the virus,” said Bernard Childress, Executive Director of TSSAA. “It is vitally important that we continue to be smart and safe in our activities, wear a mask, wash our hands and practice social distancing at every athletic contest,” he added.
In a statement released by the TSSAA, it was encouraged to continue to limit fan attendance to meet one-fourth or one-third seating capacity. Bleachers should also continue to be marked for seating and areas with high numbers of COVID-19 cases should look into further limiting of fan attendance.
Weakley County Schools representatives stated they will return to their previous policy before the Executive Order and allow one-third capacity for fan attendance.
Athletic Director and Principal Lee Lawrence of Gleason School stated, “We are pleased to be able to offer more opportunities for fans to attend our games. There are still restrictions in place regarding COVID policies and overall gym capacity, but the change back allows us some flexibility. We respectfully ask fans attending our games to follow guidelines in place so that we are not subjected to harsher restrictions during tournament play. Constant change has been hard on everyone, and we want to do everything we can to ensure families will be able to attend tournament play.”
Gleason Girls Basketball Head Coach Sean Stephenson said, “We are certainly excited to have more fans be able to attend the last few weeks of the season. More importantly, the cheerleaders will be able to attend our last two home games this week and hopefully the tournament games. I think the additional fans and cheerleaders will create a more normal environment for the teams. It has been very quiet during timeouts and between quarters, which is similar to a camp atmosphere. The players should be able to feed off of the energy and enthusiasm of the crowd.”
Fan attendance is not the only change with the most recent Executive Order. It encourages places of worship, wedding events, and funeral services to utilize virtual services and gatherings. All in-person service events are recommended to follow appropriate social-distancing guidelines and the EO strongly encourages any large public celebrations only have close family in attendance.
It was also ordered to prevent any strain on the state’s health care resources, to have any worker who is able work from home.
Each school has different protocols for ticket sales. Contact local schools and watch Facebook for more information on how each school will be handling ticket sales.