The COVID-19 virus shut down the TSSAA state basketball tournaments, spring sports and Spring Fling, but it won’t have the same effect on Murphy Fair’s Tennessee High School Football magazine.
The 33rd year of the Tennessee high school football magazine is expected to be out on time, and Fair says the pandemic has hardly deterred him.
“Really, very little,” Fair said when asked how the COVID-19 has affected his publication. “This time of the year I spend eight to 12 hours a day typing, and that’s what I’ve done since late March.
“The only difference is I haven’t been able to get out and take as many photos as I would have liked. I usually do that in April, but by then everything was shut down.”
Fair relies on surveys that coaches fill out about their team to produce the magazine.
“I think 342 surveys were sent out, and right now I have about 260 maybe,” he said. “They’re not all complete, but I’ve just finished No. 188. My survey is also online, and if I hit a snag I can just call the coach or a booster about sales.
“I’m about 75 percent done. The coaches haven’t had anything else to do, so they might as well fill out my survey. Several have been reluctant to do so because of no spring practice, but I’ve told them they’re not going to know a whole lot more in a month. I’ve actually got 10 or 15 surveys (from schools) that I haven’t gotten in some time.”
All of the Cheatham County high school football coaches said they have returned a survey about their team except for Sycamore, which announced the hiring of head coach Mark Hall last Friday.
Fair said the magazine will go to the printer in mid-June.
“They need bout two or three weeks,” he said. “I usually get it back on my birthday, which is July 10, or my wife’s, which is July 11. I take about three weeks to deliver it across the state. By Aug. 1 it will be totally distributed.”
“Murphy Fair’s Tennessee High School” includes preview of teams and preseason All-State teams in all classes.
“My two biggest features are an Academic All-State team for seniors and there is usually about 700 kids on that list,” Fair said. “And we have about five or six pages on ‘Where are they Now’ for those playing collegiate ball somewhere. That list has grown incredibly the last two years now that Tennessee is being recruited so much more.”
There also is preseason state poll as voted on by the coaches.
“It’s the usual teams,” Fair said. “Everybody is chasing Maryville. When the coaches vote on the state-wide teams, the rankings are to a default. They always list the two teams that were in the BlueCross Bowl the year before whether they have 22 starters returning or four starters returning.”
While the COVID-19 virus has disrupted the sports world, Fair admits he’s been fortunate.
“I’ve been very lucky,” he said. “I had a lot of concerns early on and I still have a few. I’m incredibly blessed to do what I do for a living. It’s had its ups and downs, but I can’t think of anything more rewarding that what I can do for young people who play football in this state.”