Noontime Commentary: Early Thoughts On Fall Sports In New England

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Some college athletic folks seem more pessimistic than optimistic about having football games on campus this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan 

It may be late June, but the thought of college sports taking place this fall, specifically in New England seems hard to fathom due to the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Sure, the numbers and data seem to be trending in the right direction in all six New England states, but before a slew of major announcements occurs next month, two schools have already announced plans to forgo the upcoming fall sports season.

Bowdoin College announced earlier today they would not be competing until next January, which means the school’s second-year football coach B.J. Hammer won’t be able to lead the Polar Bears onto the field in September. But it is possible we could see Hammer and the Polar Bears, along with their school’s other fall sports programs could compete during the spring semester, according to WGME-TV’s Dave Eid.

This past weekend the Boston Globe reported that UMass Boston wouldn’t be competing for Little East Conference (LEC) crowns this fall while Interim Chancellor Katherine Newman announced

today that the school plans to continue to operate remotely for the upcoming semester

Does this mean the Beacons of UMass Boston won’t be playing until this winter or next spring? Possibly, but as Newman said in today’s update about the fall semester, “If there were a way to make a different decision in a manner that we feel is responsible, we surely would. Sadly, the virus is spreading amongst athletes in states that have opened up. We don’t want that to happen to our Beacons. “

Indeed, the virus has impacted a slew of NCAA D-I schools and programs, including Clemson University and Louisiana State University (LSU). Additionally, it was reported lasted week that Kansas State had to press pause on its voluntary workouts for 14 days due to some student-athletes testing positive.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus is here to stay – most likely, we won’t resume a sense of normalcy until a vaccine is developed, but it is expected that more news of positive tests and schools forgoing fall sports to keep their students – and yes, their student-athletes safe – will be announced in the coming days and weeks.

Rooting for schools to be open so students can return to campus is something we should all want, especially during such unprecedented times.

But unfortunately, this virus does not take vacations and will certainly continue to be with us when school bells begin to ring in late August and early September, which means it won’t be easy for football, soccer, field hockey, and volleyball games to be played this fall. 

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