TSSAA – HISTORY, The FACTS & FIGURES
WHY HAVE ATHLETICS?
TSSAA – HISTORY AND GROWTH
SCHOOLS ESTABLISH RULES
TSSAA HAS A POSITIVE ATTITUDE
WHAT DOES IT COST?
HOW IS TSSAA FINANCED?
WHAT DOES THE TSSAA DO ?
WHAT IS DESIRED OF ME?
The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association administers the junior and senior high school athletic program for an estimated 110,000 participants, 402 schools, an estimated 6,000 coaches, 5,000 officials, and almost 5,500 teams.
Participation in athletics encompasses all races and creeds and teaches a student that it is a privilege and an honor to represent his or her school. The student learns how to lose as well as how to win. The student has to be able to take as well as give. There is no greater way to encourage young athletes to continue their education than on the athletic field or in the gymnasium where the lessons are demonstrated under actual conditions. Leadership and citizenship experiences through athletics better prepare our students for a more useful and wholesome life — and it’s fun to participate.
Interscholastic athletics constitute a part of the right kind of “growing up” experiences for American boys and girls. Youth is interested in doing things well in belonging in displaying loyalty. With a well administered school program, students as well as spectators become better citizens through participation and observance of athletics conducted under established rules impartially administered.
The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association is a voluntary, nonprofit, self-supported organization, conceived by school people (teachers, principals, superintendents) and administered by individuals carefully chosen to conduct the program.
TSSAA was organized in 1925. When the first state office was set up in 1946, the average daily attendance in all junior and senior high schools in Tennessee was only 85,000. Today’s participation reaches almost 110,000.
The TSSAA is a leader in athletics in the United States. Tennessee was one of the first states to offer interscholastic athletics for girls. Tennessee high school girls’ basketball goes back to the early 1920’s.
The TSSAA was one of the first states to recognize and accept black athletes, the black high school program, and black officials. The TSSAA was one of a very few associations that integrated its program early and was not forced to do so under federal court order, as many states were.
The TSSAA program really began growing by leaps when classification of football was started back in 1969. Three classes were developed and each class advanced four teams into the play-off series. Teams that got to the play-offs did so by a point system. In 1969 the play-off attendance was 23,146.
By 1973 there was classification of basketball into two classes. Three classes of basketball came into being in 1976. Credit for initiating the state basketball tournament series goes to the late Blinkey Horn, sports editor of the Nashville Tennessean. The first boys’ basketball tournament was held in 1921, and the first girls’ cage tourney followed the next year. There was no boys’ tournament from 1943 to 1946 because of the war. There was no girls’ state from 1929 to 1957 for “financial reasons” and “the various types of rules” played at that time. The 1947 boys’ tournament drew 6,132, and it grew to a record crowd of 44,582 in 1968. The girls’ state has grown each year from 9,725 in 1958 to 25,874 in 1987. There are approximately 1,300 basketball games played each week during the cage season in Tennessee middle and senior high schools.
TSSAA sponsors football, girls’ and boys’ basketball, girls’ and boys’ track, girls’ and boys’ tennis, wrestling, girls’ volleyball, girls’ and boys cross country, baseball, girls’ softball, girls’ and boys’ soccer, girls’ and boys’ golf, and boys’ and girls’ bowling.
TSSAA has 402 high schools in its membership. There are 344 TMSAA member middle schools.
It was not until 1946 that the Association employed a full-time executive secretary and established a state office in Tennessee. The office moved to the Nashville area in 1970.
The purpose of the Association is to stimulate and regulate the athletic relations of the secondary schools in Tennessee. Recognizing that the primary objective of all secondary schools is to educate youth, the TSSAA aims to coordinate the athletic and scholastic programs.
The athletic field and gymnasium are classrooms in which teaching is foremost in the development of character, integrity, sportsmanship, and team work. Although the athletic program is associated primarily with physical education and the scholastic program with mental education, one complements the other.
The TSSAA handbook outlines the script and purpose of the Association. It contains the standards of eligibility to be met by high school students attaining the privilege of participating in interschool contests, and these rules control the participating schools.
Since the association was organized, administrators from all over Tennessee have served on its Board of Control, Legislative Council and committees, and have helped write and establish the present standards. By adoption of the rules and bylaws through membership, the schools discipline their own interscholastic program. All standards, provisions and amendments to the rules, constitution and bylaws under which the association operates were voted by the representatives elected by member schools and provide the authority under which the association functions.
Legislative authority is vested in the Legislative Council of nine administrators. The nine council members are elected — three from each Grand Division of the state — for three-year terms. Proposed rule changes are discussed at regional meetings in the fall, and the council ascertains the sentiment of the membership toward such changes. The annual meetings of the council are held in December and March with the purpose of accepting or rejecting proposed rule changes.
Any junior or senior high public, parochial or private school accredited by the Tennessee State Department of Education, State Department of Education approved agencies and/or The Southern Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges may become a member by subscribing to TSSAA standards and paying the membership dues.
The Board of Control is the executive authority of TSSAA. It is the body which enforces TSSAA regulations, conducts state meetings, authorizes the expenditures of TSSAA and registers officials. As with the council, the board is composed of nine administrators – three from each Grand Division of the state. The board members are elected for three-year terms by the TSSAA members they represent
The Board of Control employs an executive officer and sufficient administrative and clinical help to execute the policies established by the schools and the board. At present there are five staff and seventeen support employees. The association owns its own building at 3333 Lebanon Road, Hermitage, Tennessee.
The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association belongs to the member schools. They organized it, and they will sustain it. Member schools are proud of their association and they have a right to be proud. It serves them well in a very worthy purpose.
The association protects the schools, the students, the communities, the teachers, the administrators, and the officials. It has never allied itself in opposition to any of these and it has been positive and strong in support of all of them. The TSSAA has no ideas, ideals, standards or policies that are foreign to good school work. It is of the schools, by the schools and for the schools at all times.
Protection always comes at a price. It is never free. It costs something. This means support of the organization that makes protection possible and available.
What does it cost to secure the protection of the State High School Association? Here are some of the specific things a school gives up when it joins the association and some things it secures.
The school gives up the right:
- To do as it pleases in interschool athletics.
- To use student athletes who are not eligible.
- To secure or purchase players wherever they may be found.
- To withhold its loyal support of the association.
- To give credits to students who have not earned them.
- To use ignorance of facts and conditions as a form of bliss.
- To turn thumbs down on public opinion that is sound.
- To be unfair and disloyal.
- To act as if the rules and regulations govern the other school but not itself.
To compensate, the school secures:
- Protection for its students, itself and its community.
- Any opportunity to compete in athletics on equal terms and under the same rules and regulations with proper enforcement.
- A chance for its students to be social and to secure the benefits of social living.
- Standards and criteria to measure what is and what ought to be in athletics.
- Satisfaction in belonging to something with high and worthy ideals and practices.
- The benefits of joint and united action and support when non-school people desire to run the athletic activities of the schools.
- The right to just say “no” with the backing of the association when this answer could not be given and supported otherwise.
- The right to carry out programs and make decisions regarding activities that could not be carried out or made with the sole authority of the individual school.
- The benefits of high morale in the association brought about by good schools over the state.
- A share in the funds, awards, and championships of the state association.
- Inherited standardized practices and procedures in athletic management.
- All of the privileges of participating in an athletic association that is truly a representative democracy.
The association is a nonprofit organization. The TSSAA is not tax-supported.
TSSAA receives dues from the member schools, officials, and a share from tournament series. The budget for TSSAA runs in excess of $3,000,000 each year. As the demand for increased services continues, so must the budget.
Expenditures include printing, purchase of rule books, publishing a magazine, postage and shipping, printing handbooks, calendars and necessary forms, officials’ conferences, salaries for officials’ supervisors, officials’ clinic, audit and attorneys’ fees, insurance and the purchase of trophies, medals and awards. About three quarters of a million dollars is used to purchase insurance for member schools.
All 50 states and several Canadian provinces are members of the National Federation of State High School Associations, an organization which formulates policies, game rules, and standards for interschool competition.
Tennessee has rules on eligibility which correspond to those recommended by the National Federation. It is to the credit of the people of Tennessee that TSSAA is recognized by other states as one of the best in the United States. Tennessee has been called on frequently to help its neighbors with other programs, and TSSAA staff members have been named to national offices and committees in recognition of their work.
- It strives to promote good sportsmanship and cooperative spirit among member schools.
- Works to prevent exploitation of high school students by special interest athletic programs in the United States.
- Evaluates local, state and national contests affecting secondary schools, approving those which meet the standards of the association. Purchases several films each year for use by member schools and officials’ associations.
- Publishes the TSSAA News, which is available to all schools, news media of the state, and officials.
- Conducts more than 70 football, basketball, baseball, softball, soccer, volleyball, wrestling and track rules interpretation meetings in various sections of the state as an aid to officials and coaches.
- Trains, tests, and certifies approximately 3,000 officials in various sports.
- Encourages a high quality of scholarship in order to compete in interscholastic athletics.
- Seeks to safeguard the health and welfare of each student.
- Seeks to keep the awards for achievement on a sound, sensible basis by restricting the type.
- Requires coaches to be certified teachers and regularly employed by the school they represent.
- Sponsors play-offs, tournaments or meets in football, basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball, wrestling, golf, tennis, soccer; cross country, track, decathlon and pentathlon.
The sole purpose of eligibility rules and contest regulations is to keep competition equitable and to maintain activities in proper perspective to the whole program of education. It is the responsibility of each school to see that no student competes if he or she has violated the eligibility rules. But it is also the responsibility of tile student to observe and obey these standards.
The TSSAA state office checks each name (on estimated 110,000) each time it is submitted to the state offices for eligibility purposes. Each student’s age, birth date, date of enrollment, previous participation and the number of semesters in school is checked.
According to TSSAA standards, as deter- mined by the members of TSSAA, some of the eligibility rules are:
- A student must have made a passing grade during the preceding semester in at least five full unit subjects;
- A student must be enrolled before the 20th school day of the semester, in regular attendance, and carrying at least five full courses during the present semester;
- A student is permitted eight semesters of eligibility beginning with the ninth grade. Junior division students are permitted four semesters of eligibility beginning with the eighth grade;
- A student shall be ineligible in high school if he becomes 19 years of age on or before September 1 or in junior high if he becomes 16 years of age on or before August 1
- Athletes must live at home with their parents;
- In order for a transfer student with an athletic record to be eligible at another school there must be a bona fide change of residence by the athlete’s parents;
- All transfer students must be approved by the Executive Director of TSSAA before participating in any game or contest;
- A student whose name is listed on the school eligibility report cannot participate in an independent game or meet until the season has closed in that particular sport. (This does not include golf or tennis)
- A registered athlete cannot accept any money for athletic skills in any TSSAA sponsored sport;
- An athlete may accept a medal, trophy, high school letter, sweater, shirt, jacket, blazer or blanket for athletic participation but nothing else of commercial value, and these awards must carry the school’s letter or other appropriate award emblem;
- All expenses to an athletic camp where specialized instruction is offered must be paid by the athlete or his or her parents;
- When an athlete is charged tuition to attend a school, it must be paid by the parent or bona fide guardian.
The schools wish to inform you so that you may continue to help in maintaining the Tennessee interscholastic program on a sound basis. Interested citizens, civic groups, other organizations and schools must continually co- operate if we are to keep these events on an even keel.
Maybe you have been approached at one time or another, or know of someone who has been approached regarding the presentation of special awards to outstanding students or teams. Maybe you have been approached to look for ways to circumvent the eligibility standards. As a citizen interested in the welfare and education of all boys and girls of Tennessee, you should frown upon such attempts and have no part of them. The best way to teach obedience and respect for law is to obey and respect laws and not try to find ways to evade them. School persons can enforce the standards of participation with your help.
If attempts are made to exploit, commercialize or use high school students or the inter-scholastic athletic program to the advantage of non-school groups, then confer with your local school authorities or the TSSAA, 3333 Lebanon Road, Hermitage, Tennessee 37076. These officials can tell you about the standards governing competition, amateurism, awards, age limits, minimum scholastic requirements, all-star games, physical examinations, etc.
Athletics in Tennessee schools will be as good and as sound as those who administer and support them. Rules and regulations are valueless unless they are embedded in the “grass roots” of the local school and community. The underlying philosophy of interscholastic athletics presupposes that they are for the good of the youngsters themselves – just as are the other phases of the educational program – and that’s the way the citizens of Tennessee want them to be. Your cooperation to keep them that way is needed.