Tennessee high school football TSSAA teams must play at least one Thursday night game this season and possibly in the future.
TSSAA staff will allocate Thursday night games to all schools in 2021 following a unanimous decision by its Board of Control on Monday. The decision comes at a time when the state association has said it has enough referees to work on the games, but fears from a safety standpoint.
Staff say many senior officials who worked on the watch earlier this year were asked to be officials on the field this past season to help fill the referee crew.
“After talking to the coaches’ association, I think most (coaches) understand,” said Richard McWater, TSSAA assistant director. “It simply came to our notice then.
“If they can move a game – it’s not like we’re asking them to move the whole season. If they do, it allows them to get a crew who can handle the game. I think they’ll be fine with that.”
McWhirter said TSSAA is looking to move to a minimum of 20 games per week from Thursday night in 2022. Adequate competition has been moved to the right part of the state each week to ensure TSSAA staff will choose which games will be moved on Thursday.
Last year, the TSSAA issued a rule that allows host schools to pay for the mileage of working crews coming to schools outside their association. Or the host school could transfer their game to Thursday.
“The biggest thing is that some parts of the state are covering certain weeks,” McWarter said. “We’re going to watch every game in the state. If we have 20, it will help.
“We can’t ask every coach in the state to give us one – because they will. But if they don’t give us the right week, it won’t help the situation.”
In 2021, the TSSAA played 152 games where the referee association operating the game had no crew that could work on Friday night. McWiter said the plan is to launch a system starting the 2022 season. That plan will be unveiled at the June Board of Control meeting.
The North Central Referee Association, one of four that serves Middle Tennessee schools, failed to play 39 games with their crew in 2021. Forced games cannot be moved to Thursday or any outside crew can enter.
The Mid-South Association, based in the Memphis area, had 23 games that failed to serve.