With a brand new season of college football — and yes, other fall sports, too — quickly approaching, the NCAA has released new guidance for the upcoming fall season for both practices and games as Covid-19 continues to impact our daily lives.
The organization’s document — the 2021 Fall Training and Competition document — highlights “testing, quartine, isolation, and other athletic and nonathletic activity consideration” for those that are vaccinated and unvaccinated that fall under Tier 1, which include student-athletes, coaches, athletic trainers, equipment staff, and officials.
“Current vaccination rates remain inadequate to provide community-level immunity,” NCAA Chief Medical Officer Brian Hainline said in a statement. “It is essential that member schools work in concert with federal, state, and local public health officials to develop Covid-19 prevention and management strategies that make sense for them.”
The biggest concern for the NCAA is the delta variant, which is “highly transmissible,” but can also be contracted by fully vaccinated individuals that can shed the virus to others around them.
Today’s guidance will certainly impact those who are vaccinated differently from those who have yet to receive a shot. And one of those differences revolves around testing as those who are unvaccinated will need to test three times per week while vaccinated student-athletes, coaches, and team representatives won’t need to unless they are “symptomatic, or based on a risk assessment of a documented close contact with Covid-19.”
As of today, we’re 24 days away from “Week 0” of the 2021 college football season and 31 days away from the opening weekend.
Following yesterday’s announcement from Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker about lifting Covid-19 restrictions next Saturday, May 29, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA)issued a statement this morning that masks and facial covers will no longer be required for those competing outdoors.
The MIAA Sports Medicine Committee (SMC) “voted unanimously” to approve the guidelines the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) unveiled yesterday that would allow both youth and amateur sports participants to “no longer require face coverings for youth athletes 18 and under while playing outdoors.” The remaining restrictions will be lifted effectively on May 29.
In addition to no longer needing a face mask or covering while competing outside, student-athletes will no longer need to wear them on the bench or in a dugout. Those that compete in low-risk sports indoors will not have to wear a mask or face covering as long they can maintain at least 14 feet or more from other participants. Face masks and coverings will be required for those attending indoor events such as boy’s volleyball matches but not needed for outdoor contests, pending fans can safely distance themselves from others.
Excluding today’s decision on masks and facial coverings, no changes will be made to the MIAA sports modifications. However, the governing body of Massachusetts high school sports did say they would review the EEA guidelines as restrictions are lifted.
Massachusetts amateur and youth sports leagues will start to look more like they did prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, beginning tomorrow, Tuesday, May 18 with the state permitting athletes “18 and under” to no longer wear a face-covering while competing outdoors. 11 days later — Saturday, May 29, to be exact — all restrictions will be lifted.
Monday was an exciting day for many in the state of Massachusetts as Governor Charlie Baker announced all Covid-19 restrictions will be lifted effective Saturday, May 29, which means it’s possible that we could see Fenway Park and Gillette Stadium operate at 100 percent capacity on that particular day.
Both the Boston Red Sox and New England Revolution will be at home on Saturday, May 29, but no announcement from either team has been made about how many fans will be admitted for each contest. Additionally, the TD Garden will be able to host more fans, pending the Boston Bruins and Boston Celtics are still competing in their respective postseason tournament.
Most likely, today’s announcement means Gillette Stadium will be filled for the upcoming New England Patriots season — the team unveiled its 2021 season last Wednesday, May 12, and will kick-off their three-game preseason at home on Thursday, August 12 against the Washington Football Team.
Starting tomorrow, Tuesday, May 18, youth and amateur sports leagues will no longer have to wear “face coverings.” And on Saturday, May 29, “all youth and amateur sports restrictions will be lifted.”
Every Friday, Team Noontime — Matt Noonan, Andrew Pezzelli, and Zach Weiss — get together to record a weekly podcast on national (and yes, sometimes New England-based sports news). And this week, the trio shared their thoughts on the upcoming NBA play-in tournament.
All three believe this is a good thing for a league that included a play-in tournament last year when games were shifted to Orlando, Florida due to the Covid-19 pandemic. And as of this afternoon — Friday, May 14, to be exact — six of eight play-in spots are secured, including the seventh, eighth, and ninth positions in the Eastern Conference.
We’ll find out over the next few days as to which teams will secure the final two spots — one in the Eastern Conference and one in the Western Conference as the play-in tournament is set to begin next Tuesday, May 18 and will conclude Friday, May 21.
Additionally, Noonan, Pezzelli, and Weiss discuss the Boston Celtics’ current campaign, which finds the Green and White in seventh place in the Eastern Conference heading into the play-in tournament next week.The Celtics will most likely tip-off against the Charlotte Hornets, but could face the Indiana Pacers, pending results between now and Sunday.
Boston has two games remaining in the regular season against the Minnesota Timberwolves (Saturday, May 15) and New York Knicks (Sunday, May 16).