Gov. Baker Paves The Way For Pro Sports To Return To Massachusetts

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Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker provided a glimmer of hope for live sports to return in the coming weeks. (PHOTO COURTESY: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan 

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker clearly misses sports – we all know he is a proud supporter of our state’s hometown teams.

So on Friday, Baker announced that the state’s professional teams would be allowed to begin practicing as soon as Saturday, June 6. That is also the same date Massachusetts residents should learn more about the second phase of the state’s reopening plan, which would begin Monday, June 8.

“I know we still aren’t to the point where we’ll have our pro sports teams back playing anything yet,” Baker said during Friday’s press briefing. “The leagues are obviously working hard to host games again. And I think we all hope that at some point, opening practice facilities will help make that happen a little sooner.”

Professional sports have been idle since mid-March when the National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL) paused their respective seasons due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Since then, both leagues have been working diligently to find a way to restart their seasons safely in “hub cities.”

Major League Baseball (MLB) delayed the start of its 2020 season but continues to be stuck in neutral due to ongoing contract discussions between the players and owners.

Both Major League Soccer (MLS) and the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) have announced plans to return to the pitch in the coming weeks, which should excited local New England Revolution fans.

Baker believes live sports would certainly help all of us during this unprecedented time. Additionally, it would be a great outlet for many, who have been consuming older contests these past few weeks, including a 2007 playoff run by the Boston Red Sox on NESN.

“I think for all of us live sports, and especially pro sports would be a great thing to see again because not only will it be a significant milestone for those of us who are fans but it will also send a big signal that we’ve continued to do all the things that we need to do to contain and control the virus,” said Baker.

Noontime Commentary: It Is Time To Pull The Plug On All Spring Sports

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Is it time to officially pull the plug on all spring sports, including high school games? (PHOTO COURTESY: Visualhunt.com)

By Matt Noonan | @NoontimeNation 

It may be time to pull the plug on spring sports, including all high school games, along with any other leagues or tournaments that were scheduled to start, both this month or over the next few weeks.

Sports will return – I know they will – but playing games to convening along the sidelines to cheer on our hometown student-athletes to storming the gates at Fenway Park just doesn’t seem like the right thing to do during this time of uncertainty. 

We are expecting a “surge” here in Massachusetts, which could have started yesterday or today – who knows? – and it will certainly challenge all of us, as well as our communities, hospitals, health professionals, and everyone else that has bravely stepped up to help combat the spread of COVID-19. And this so-called “surge” – may be the first of many to come? – is certainly a sign that future games and contests will either be canceled or postponed.

Games, which were scheduled for today and yesterday, have already been canceled. Professional leagues like the NBA and NHL are staying optimistic about finishing their respective seasons while the MLB is pondering the thought of playing games in both Arizona and Florida next month.

Meanwhile, there is a slew of college athletes sitting idle – sadly, they will not return to the ice, hardwood, track, baseball or softball diamonds, volleyball courts or lacrosse fields later this spring. Their respective seasons are caputs.

And then there are the high school student-athletes, who are eagerly awaiting an announcement from their state’s Governor to say schools will re-open and spring sports will happen. But sadly, I don’t think high school spring sports will occur, along with any professional or minor league events for quite some time.

The thought of watching our friends and neighbors compete in crowded gymnasiums or local parks just doesn’t seem like a logical plan to me, especially during a time where many, including myself, are seeking some signs of hope, as well as a light at the end of the tunnel. I am an optimist – I always look at the glass half full, not half empty – but from everything I have read, heard or discussed with friends and colleagues within the sports world makes me think (and believe) that games will not be played either next month or in early June. And the thought of games being canceled or postponed weeks from now – i.e. fall sports like football, soccer, field hockey, and others – is also a possibility.

We need to be patient. We need to adhere to the advice of our local (and national) medical workers and scientists. We need to listen to our local Governors, mayors, and town representatives, who are working hard to keep us safe and provide some sense of normalcy to all of us in the coming weeks and months.

Spring sports will return to our lives one day, along with future dinner plans at our favorite neighborhood restaurants to movies, picnics and so much more. But for now, I think it is best to pull the plug and play it safe.

Commentary: Are You Ready For Life Without Sports?

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Are you ready for life without sports? (PHOTO COURTESY: CubesAndPiii on Visual Hunt / CC BY-ND)

By Matt Noonan | @NoontimeNation

Get ready for a few weeks and months without sports – it is going to happen.

Due to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), both this week and over the past few weeks, sports are going to take a backseat. And I am fine with that decision.

The health and well-being of our athletes, coaches, team representatives, and of course, the fans, is what matters most during this time.

I know many fans are upset – what will I do without sports? – while others believe the games (and practices) must go on. But I believe the only way we can return to the field and bleachers is by adhering to the advice of our doctors, health officials, and scientists, not angry parents or fans.

The decision to halt professional, college and high school sports was certainly not an easy one, but again, this decision, a domino effect on Thursday after the NBA suspended its season late Wednesday evening, was the right thing to do. And again, I know many, including college and high school seniors, were extremely distraught to hear their dreams of competing for a March Madness title or state championship would not occur, so I sympathize with these men and women, including the high school seniors that may not get a chance to compete this spring on the baseball or softball diamond or even the school’s outdoor track.

So, with really no local games or college basketball to watch today, tomorrow, and Sunday, I guess it is time to embark into a world that won’t include sports, but instead concerns over the well-being of our family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors.

Will we read more books?

Will we binge-watch, both old and new shows?

Will we get outside and soak in the sun (when its nice, of course)?

Or will we just hunker down and wait for the apocalypse of the coronavirus to vanish?

No matter what happens, life will be different – I guarantee it – but as I mentioned earlier today in my ‘Daily Noontime,’ we will persevere and come back stronger. And that is because I am an optimist.

While I know many of you may find life quite boring and odd these next few weeks and months without sports, just remember that our favorite teams and athletes will eventually reemerge. But until that time comes, we just need to smile, laugh, and find something else to do to keep us preoccupied while we anxiously await the return of professional, college, and high school sports.

COVID-19 Cancels March Madness, NCAA Winter & Spring Championships

By Matt Noonan 

Due to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the NCAA has decided to cancel both its winter and spring championships for all three divisions, including March Madness, which was supposed to occur next week without fans in the stands.

The announcement of the cancelations was made this afternoon through a statement, which was seen both on the NCAA website and social media. The statement from the NCAA was the following:

Today, NCAA President Mark Emmert and the Board of Governors canceled the Division I men’s and women’s 2020 basketball tournaments, as well as all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships. This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities.

Shortly after the cancelations were announced, D3Hoops.com confirmed both D-III tournaments were canceled, including contests that were scheduled to take place this weekend at Amherst CollegeBowdoin College, and Tufts University.

As noted in the report on D3Hoops.com this afternoon, the Tufts men’s basketball team learned of the news on a bus ride to Brockport, New York. The Jumbos were scheduled to tip-off on Saturday, March 14th against the College of Brockport in the third round of the NCAA D-III Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Prior to the NCAA announcement, multiple professional leagues began suspending its current season, including Major League Soccer (MLS), the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the National Hockey League (NHL). Additionally, both Major League Baseball (MLB) and Minor League Baseball (MLB) announced they would be delaying the start of their respective seasons for two weeks.

Finally, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) announced they were canceling both its basketball and hockey championships this weekend.

Note From The Editor: Announcing Some New Coverage Plans for Noontime Sports

Note From Editor

By Matt Noonan | @MattNoonan11 

Hey Everyone,

Happy Tuesday (and almost Fourth of July)! Hope everyone has some great plans in-store to celebrate America’s Birthday with family and friends tomorrow.

It has been a while since I did a quick check-in, so I thought, why not today?

The sports world is somewhat in a holding pattern as we anxiously await the start of another football season, but there is some news from the NBA about two well-known players changing teams: LeBron James is now a member of the Los Angeles Lakers while DeMarcus Cousins inked his name to a contract with the Golden State Warriors.

Sure, more news will come from the NBA world over the next few days and weeks, and hopefully my Boston Celtics can lock-up Marcus Smart for another year or two, so he can help the Green and White take down the Philadelphia 76ers in next year’s Eastern Conference Finals.

But enough about the NBA, let me switch gears to an update on where Noontime Sports is headed over the next few months and what you can expect from both our blog and social media channels going forward.

  • More Feature Stories: We will be producing long-form stories from the New England (and northeast) baseball, basketball, football, hockey, lacrosse and soccer worlds, which will be similar to what I produced over the past three years on the Amherst College football and Babson College field hockey teams.
  • New England Top 10 Polls: The New England Top 10s on basketball, football and lacrosse will return once again this school year, so make sure to stay tuned for our initial poll of the 2018-19 school year next month.
  • Stay Social: In case you missed it (or did not know), we recently launched a few new Twitter handles that focus on baseball, hockey and soccer. You should definitely click follow because these channels will be producing content all about their sports. Additionally, these channels will be our go-to for game coverage, stories, links and videos. We will make sure to give you a heads-up on our main Twitter handle (@NoontimeSports) which handle you should follow for in-game updates, scores and news.
  • Pro, Prep School and High Schools will be included in our 2018-19 content coverage plan: When I first launched Noontime Sports in May 2009, my friends and I initially wrote blogs about pro sports. And while we used to include pro coverage before switching to just college sports, my thought is to welcome it back, but more in short or long-form pieces. Consider them more columns or opinion pieces. We also used to cover some high school sports when we launched, too, so one should expect some features on prep and high school teams this coming school year, as well. Our focus will remain on the college sports world, but expect to see some additional content on professional, prep and high school world.
  • We welcome story ideas or pitches for podcasts: Have a story idea or an idea for a podcast? Then let me know! Feel free to send me an email to MattNoonan@noontimesports.com. I would love to hear from you – any input is always welcome!

Well, that concludes my ‘editor’s note’ about some exciting content changes for Noontime Sports. I am really excited to branch out and tell some different stories, beginning later this summer. And as always, thank you for being amazing fans, friends and readers – I never would have imagined my tiny blog becoming what it is today, but that is due to the amazing support from all of you!

Have a great Fourth of July, as well as a wonderful summer, and I look forward to keeping you updated on the New England sports world later this week and beyond!

Stay connected with Matt Noonan on social media by following him on @MattNoonan11 on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter