It seems hard to fathom, but another year is slowly winding down.
2021 felt more normal than say 2020 — yes, there were some challenges we all faced, along with a few delays for some games to be played earlier this year. But overall, 2021 brought a sense of hope and renewal with perhaps the biggest story for many being the return to the field.
In addition to populating our blog, our podcast — the Noontime Sports Podcast, to be exact! — welcomed a slew of new and old guests to the show. We discussed a variety of topics from mental health to content creation and coaching — we are super-excited for a brand new year of podcasting with shows appearing in your feed every Thursday.
So, before we officially bid farewell to another year of content creation, we invite you to enjoy some of our favorite sounds of the year (as seen above!).
Thank you for the continued support for coverage, and I cannot wait to begin a brand new year of storytelling in just a few days.
There are still a few weeks left, but 2021 is slowly ending.
Before we usher in a new year, it is time to look back on some of our favorite stories, podcasts, and videos from the last 12 months, beginning with perhaps our favorite storyline: the return to the field.
After a year away due to the Covid-19 pandemic, numerous colleges and high schools eagerly returned to the field this fall for football games, soccer matches, field hockey contests, and cross country meets. And there was a jubilant feel for each outing.
Sure, we saw some college and high school games played earlier this year – ever heard of spring football in Massachusetts? – but those games did not have the same feeling that I and others experienced this fall. The return to the field was discussed multiple times on our podcasts this summer – in case you want to revisit our preseason coverage, you can visit both our podcast and YouTube pages to relive those conversations and thoughts with coaches and media members.
I blogged a few times about the return to the field, as well as how this past football season will be one I and others will remember for quite some time. Like many, I missed seeing the student-athletes compete at all levels last fall – to be honest, it just seemed strange. But 2020 is in the rearview mirror, and I believe the excitement for the return to the field will continue throughout the remainder of the 2021-22 school year.
It will be hard to replicate this season next year, but the excitement for games will continue – I guarantee it. There were a lot of great stories that emerged from this past fall’s return to the field and we will do our best to highlight those between now and the end of the month, but for now, thus concludes our initial “stories of the year” post – be on the lookout for more over the next few weeks.
Yes, I know I am not the first to wish you, as well as your family and friends, a very happy and healthy new year, but hopefully this post – the first of many, of course! – will fill you with some much-needed joy and happiness on a rather gray and overcast day here in Boston, Massachusetts.
As promised in my year-end video, I am eager to produce some new (and old) content, including my first-ever ‘Noontime’s Sunday Thoughts’ column, which will be a mix of thoughts, ideas, and links from the sports world, along with some other topics, too.
I am excited for this column and hope you are, as well – I am sure it will look different each week, but that is the beauty of trying new things, right?
So, without further ado, here comes my first post of 2021 – I am excited and optimistic for a much better year for everyone!
Thought No. 1: 2021 will be much better than 2020: Yes, this is an understatement, but I believe better days are ahead – I am an optimist.
However, I don’t expect an immediate bounce back now that it is January 3, 2021. We still need to wear our masks, social distance, and wash our hands. And we need to “hold the line,” so we can finish strong.
We can do this – I believe in my fans and friends!
As we get closer to the spring and summer, I expect some sense of normalcy will return, but that feeling of gathering or watching a game safely won’t truly happen until late September or early October. Maybe early November?
This is an educated guess – I am not a scientist, so I could be wrong (fingers crossed!) – but once we are able to assemble safely at a future sporting event, I will breathe a sense of relief. I know that day will come and it will be an exciting occasion for everyone.
Thought No. 2: The NFL’s 2020 Season: To be honest, I did not expect the National Football League (NFL) would be able to play a full 17-week season during a pandemic. But somehow, they persevered.
Yep, I was wrong – sorry, everyone!
I was shocked that the league was able to play three weeks without an outbreak, but somehow, they overcame a hurdle of obstacles from the Tennessee Titans to Cam Newton to moving the Pittsburgh Steelers–Baltimore Ravens game from Thursday to Sunday to Monday to Tuesday.
The NFL seemed unprepared for its 2020 season after successfully conducting their collegiate draft in April via Zoom, but somehow they proved me wrong, so let’s enjoy the final day of the regular season because who knows what happens next week once the postseason begins.
Thought No. 3: The 2020 College Football Season: I am not the biggest college football fan, but I did watch a few games this past fall, including a pair of must-see Boston College contests against Clemson University and Notre Dame.
But what I witnessed outside of the Boston College matchups I watched was poor play by numerous teams, including various student-athletes, as well as coaches acting as if they were invisible to the coronavirus – did anyone actually wear a mask on the sidelines this year? I give my buddy Howard Herman of the Berkshire Eagle credit for the mask comment.
In addition to the playing field being mediocre, I have also found some of these bowl games rather boring – to be honest, I would rather watch bull-riding than some of these games, but again, what do I know?
The 2020 season was a wild ride for the college sports world – remember, not many of us knew if and when games would begin last fall – but similar to the NFL, the college football world deserves some credit for finding a way to play games safely. Hopefully the championship game between Alabama and Ohio State will be a good finale for the 2020 season.
Thought No. 4: Podcasts will continue to grow in 2021: If there is one thing 2020 taught us, it is that podcasts will continue to be a go-to medium for many of us working from home until at least the summertime, maybe the fall?
And while podcasts under big-time brands like Barstool Sports and The Ringer will continue to flourish, I do expect some smaller to medium size shows to gain more listeners (and yes, followers, too).
Our podcast – the Noontime Sports Podcast – has grown immensely, thanks to our fans and friends, but also because of the amazing guests that have joined me over these past few months (thank you to everyone that has joined me – can’t wait to have you all back again soon!).
I am excited to produce more shows this month while continuing to listen to new shows (and podcasts) I discovered last year.
Here are a few shows I would recommend listening to (and yes, hitting the subscribe button, too!):
I’ll definitely be highlighting podcasts more in the coming days and weeks, so stay tuned for future posts!
Final Thought: Could we see some new hyper-local blogs, websites or podcasts emerge this year, especially in New England?
My answer: Yes.
As many know, 2020 was not a good year for media, especially newspapers, that have shuttered or reduced their newsroom. There were also some big-time outlets that let-go of some well-established (and up-and-coming) writers, producers and on-air hosts, which leads me to think that many would be willing to take their following from social media to their own respective website, blog or podcast.
Here in Massachusetts, we have seen some smaller digital outlets grow over the past few weeks and months, including the New England Football Journal, which has done a good job with online shows to complements their high school and college football coverage. John Sarianides has hosted some video shows, including coaches chats that I have enjoyed and know my fans would, as well.
Pending high school football occurs (and is played) next month, the NEFJ will be a site to follow for coverage – make sure to follow the site’s co-owner Kevin Stone, who is very passionate about hyper-local sports coverage.
Speaking of college and high school football, make sure to follow Adam Kurkjian‘s coverage through MassVarsity – similar to John and Kevin, Adam has done a good job with providing Massachusetts football fans with content to consume with very few games being played – while Ryan Lanigan and Josh Perry have done a phenomenal job with their coverage through HockomockSports.com.
These are just three sites – yes, I know there are more – but these outlets have provided future content producers, writers, and editors with a blueprint of what they could create in certain pockets of the state of Massachusetts, along with the region for areas that have lost or need additional college and high school sports coverage.
Alright, that will do it for my first-ever ‘Noontime Sunday Thoughts’ column – hope you enjoyed it, and if you have any thoughts or ideas for next week’s post, please let me know. Send me a tweet message to @NoontimeSports or an email to MattNoonan@noontimesports.com.
It’s time to say goodbye (and good riddance) to 2020 and hello to 2021 – hopefully this new year, which will arrive shortly for us on the east coast will be the start of something special, as well as the beginning of the end of Covid-19 (fingers crossed!).
2020 has been a challenging year – I never imagined that I would be going to the drawing board (and white board) almost everyday to come up with new content ideas (or plans) for the site, along with our social channels, too. But in the end, I am proud of what we were able to accomplish these last nine to ten months with most of the teams (and programs) we cover on the sidelines due to the coronavirus.
Our blog (and social channels) did grow this year, thanks to some new content we produced on adult sports leagues to amateur athletics to tech and startups. We welcomed some new and old friends to our podcast, which you can subscribe to on multiple outlets, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify. And we also produced more videos than anticipated on our YouTube channel.
2021 will mark the 12th year of our blog – crazy, right? – but I am excited for this next chapter, which will feature some new and old content, along with more videos, podcasts, and social media posts.
Here’s to better days ahead for us all – I am an optimist, but also someone that loves to spread positivity, and like I said in the video above, I believe 2021 has the potential to be an amazing year for everyone!