Attendance will be limited at the boys and girls state basketball tournaments starting Friday, and that will affect an Oak Ridge team and its fans and cheerleaders.
The Oak Ridge Wildcats are one of the eight teams playing in the Class AAA boys basketball tournament, which starts Wednesday, March 18.
The attendance limits are because of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus. The limits were announced Thursday by the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association.
“Like many other athletic associations and leagues throughout the country, TSSAA has decided that the health and safety of our student-athletes and spectators alike require that we limit fan attendance at our girls’ and boys’ state basketball championships,” the organization said.
Attendance will be limited starting with the rest of the girls state tournament on Friday, March 13, and continuing through the boys state tournament next week. Oak Ridge is scheduled to play Houston at 12:45 p.m. Central time Wednesday in one of four quarterfinal games in the Murphy Center at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro.
Attendance at the games starting Friday will be limited to the team (there is a 23-person maximum including varsity players, coaches, and team support personnel), their immediate families, and school administrators of the qualifying schools. Immediate family members includes parents, stepparents, guardians, siblings, other members living in the athlete’s household, and grandparents. School administrators will be required to provide a list of those people meeting the qualifications for entry. School administrators will be at the entrance of each venue to identify and grant entry to people on the list, TSSAA said. Everyone entering the venue will be required to obtain a new ticket.
“Anyone not on the approved list will not be allowed entry, even if the individual has a previously purchased ticket or pass,” the TSSAA said. “This restriction also includes non-varsity participants who are not in the 23-person team party, cheerleaders, mascots, and pep bands. With the exception of coaches, all other attendees may remain only for games in the class in which their team is participating. Members of the media with TSSAA-issued credentials will be allowed entry.”
When they enter, spectators are urged to take advantage of the available seating and not gather in crowds, the TSSAA said. Elderly people and those who suffer from chronic illness are at higher risk for more severe symptoms if they contract the virus and should consider this fact when deciding whether to attend.
“In making these decisions, we have consulted with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) as well as the Tennessee Department of Health, we have reached out to independent experts, and we have conferred with our sister high school associations in other states,” the TSSAA said. “We have also observed what other organizations like the NCAA, the SEC, and the NBA have done in response to this worldwide health concern. The Tennessee Department of Health and an independent expert in infectious diseases have confirmed that the limitations we have developed are in line with current guidelines and best practices.
“We understand and regret the hardship these limitations will create for many. However, the health and safety of our student-athletes is paramount. We will continue to monitor the situation, and we are hopeful that additional limitations will not be necessary.”
See the TSSAA press release here.
See the Class AAA boys basketball tournament bracket here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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