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Simmons Says - Optimism for sports return lacking locally

The pain in Phillip King’s voice was easy to spot as we spoke Thursday. Not even 24 hours removed from being told spring sports for all schools were shutting down, he was battling with the loss.

Matt Jackson and Gooby Martin struggled to find the right words as well. It was startling to see some of the most quotable guys I’ve spoken with over the years be rendered speechless. 


Everybody keeps using the same word because it’s the best way to describe everything going on. There is no road map to follow in dealing with the shutdown of sports, so everybody is stumbling through it blindly together.

Wednesday’s announcement from Gov. Bill Lee shutting down schools created a quick ripple effect in the sports world. The TSSAA followed by shutting down all spring sports, along with cancelling the postponed state basketball tournaments.

It’s hard to imagine the pain of getting to the state tournament, only to be told you won’t get a chance to compete for the ultimate crown. Warren County wasn’t in the mix by the end, but I think of what could’ve been if the magical Pioneer run this postseason would’ve lasted a couple more weeks. 

It would have been completely demoralizing. It already is.

Hearing the pain come through the telephone when talking to the spring coaches was hard to fathom, especially when I felt like the sports world was just about to turn the corner. 

Like most people, I’ve been following President Donald Trump’s daily updates, mostly focusing on any talk about sports. Just recently, President Trump discussed sports and returning to normal. He referenced college football specifically, saying “Our normal is if you have 100,00 people in an Alabama football game — or 110,000 to be exact — we want 110,000 people there. We want every seat occupied.” 

That would be great. I know I want to be back in Neyland Stadium soon.

President Trump also consulted several prominent sports leaders on the plan to reopen the country, with the clear message that sports will return. It jives with the reports of several major leagues targeting areas/cities to bring back games soon.

Even if the optimism is warranted – and I’m hopeful it is – it’s still lost on people locally. I suspect leagues with millions of dollars in funding will have an easier time getting back on track than small community leagues trying to follow the small gathering orders still in place.

National sports could be back soon, but I’m struggling to find a good guess on when kids can be back on fields locally.