Lee reopens little league through executive order

    The Southeast team from Goodlettsville, Tennessee in the 2012 Little League World Series. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
    The Southeast team from Goodlettsville, Tennessee in the 2012 Little League World Series. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

    Little league baseball, softball and other non contact sports can resume playing in much of Tennessee following an executive order signed by Gov. Bill Lee on Thursday.

    Lee’s order applies to 89 of the state’s 95 counties, while the six most populated counties with their own health departments guide their own reopening strategies.

    Although noncontact sports can return to play with increased safety protocols, contact sports like football and basketball are still banned.

    Lee said last week that while much of his reopening plans have focused on the economy, he believed it was time for Tennessee to turn its attention to activities like youth sports to help life get back to normal.

    “We’re able to continue reopening our state thanks to the sustained efforts by Tennesseans to social distance and mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Lee said. “It’s important we continue to take personal responsibility for our health and the health of our neighbors, while recognizing and honoring the need for Tennesseans to get back to work and support their families.”

    Earlier this month, one of the Nashville area’s most prominent youth sports leagues Goodlettsville Little League unveiled plans to begin practicing while still trying to comply with Lee’s order that banned gatherings of 10 or more.

    Goodlettsville Little League, which is led by state Rep. Johnny Garrett, encouraged teams to divide players into smaller groups and conduct practices at facilities that were not shut down. 

    State Rep. Johnny Garrett (R-45) (Official photo, Tennessee General Assembly)
    State Rep. Johnny Garrett (R-45) (Official photo, Tennessee General Assembly)

    In addition to baseball and softball, Lee specifically mentioned volleyball, golf, disc golf, tennis and racket sports, cycling, track and field and other running events and equestrian as sports that can resume.

    The executive order encourages masks when feasible, social distancing and added sanitation measures.

    Football, wrestling, hockey and other contact sports are not permitted except for practicing in a manner that does not involve close physical contact with other people.

    Many youth sports leagues cancelled their seasons when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, while others have remained on hiatus. 

    Lee’s latest executive order also provided guidance on summer camps and higher education. The higher education measures provided increased public health guidance for those institutions to open back up safely.

    Shelby, Madison, Davidson, Hamilton, Knox and Sullivan counties have their own health departments that are guiding their reopening strategies.