Catholic schools cancel most contact sports for Fall

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Catholic schools in the Memphis area are cancelling contact sports this Fall for elementary and middle schools.

The diocese is shutting the sports down because of COVID-19.

West Tennessee Catholic Schools Interim Superintendent Sondra Morris says the risk is too great for children of those ages to play football or soccer.

“It’s hard for them to understand social distancing, wearing their mask, washing their hands often,” Morris said, “Athletics are so important to children and families, but the safety and the well being of the kids, their families and our coaches, you know, it’s top.”

Shelby County Schools is postponing contact sports until at least after Labor Day. That decision is supported by the health department.

“Our position is that we, at the moment, do not feel that contact sports are safe,” Shelby County Health Officer Dr. Bruce Randolph said.

Related: Memphis health officials plan mass testing of students, teachers

The issue has turned into a battle at the state capitol where lawmakers are arguing over whether students should play. State Representative Antonio Parkinson of Memphis feels all school districts should delay contact sports.

“I’m not saying let’s cancel the season,” Parkinson said, “I’m saying let’s stop on the brakes.”

But others want to hit the gas. Right now, Governor Bill Lee and the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association are allowing seasons to move forward and some lawmakers are urging them to continue on that course.

“I think it’s unacceptable,” Parkinson said, “I’m one of the biggest proponents for youth sports, but I think that we need to make sure that we remember that lives are the priority.”

Other fall sports for the Catholic elementary and middle schools, like golf and volleyball, are still allowed with certain restrictions. Catholic high schools under the diocese fall under the TSSAA for sports. 

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