Lightning Policy Violation Undetermined In HS Soccer Match

Posted at 2:00 PM, Sep 11, 2017

Officials with the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association said they could not determine if storm policy was violated by school officials during a soccer match because of conflicting statements.

On August 22, a girls soccer match between Smith County High School and Mt. Juliet Christian Academy was abruptly ended due to reported concerns about a storm approaching. 

In a report sent to the TSSAA, MJCA Coach Justin Berry and his athletic trainer claimed the other team, game administrator and officials did not pause the game when they heard thunder and saw lightning.

He said he was forced to forfeit when they refused to stop the game. 

Policy states that a game should be suspended for 30 minutes if thunder could be heard or lightning could be seen. 

However, Smith County school officials said they never heard thunder or saw lightning and felt there was no need to forfeit the soccer match.

Earlier, game officials determined in a meeting that the game administrator would make decisions on weather-related suspensions. 

In letters sent to both schools, TSSAA Executive Director Ben Childress said that based on the statements, he could not definitively conclude that the TSSAA Lightning policy was knowingly violated by Smith County officials or the TSSAA referees.

Childress said several things should have been handled differently, including addressing initial concerns quickly and having all parties come together to share what was seen or heard. 

Also, according to National Federation of State High School Associations rules, game officials cannot agree to pass the responsibility of a weather-related decision off to the game administrator. 

In the letters, the Smith County Girls Soccer Program and Mt. Juliet Christian's may continue to resume their season. 

The game was considered a suspended game and may be taken up at point of suspension if there is a mutual agreement of both schools.

TSSAA stated if there is not mutual agreement, the game may be rescheduled from the beginning. If it is not played, the game is considered a no contest.