Noontime Sports Unveils Content Plans For Fall Sports Coverage

NoontimeSportsLogo2020By Matt Noonan

Happy Monday, everyone!

We hope this post finds all our fans and friends continuing to do well while staying safe and healthy.

As we inch closer to the fall, we are in the process of generating some new content ideas for both the site and podcast, as well as our social media channels.

And as expected, a majority of our content will center around football this fall.

Yes, our coverage may not be exactly the same as many recall from previous years, but we are excited to produce some new content on the various teams and programs we have been fortunate to cover these past ten years here in New England, as well as highlight some new squads from around the region and country that will be competing later this summer and fall on the gridiron.

Starting today – Monday, August 31, to be exact – we will be producing our first-ever ‘Stars of the Week’ post, which will highlight various high school student-athletes that competed the previous Friday and Saturday. Additionally, we hope to welcome a coach, student-athlete, or reporter/media member from different areas of the country onto our podcast each week to share stories from games and practices.

Of course, I anticipate other content will be created as we inch closer to the end of the year, but for now, hopefully, this post (and insight) provides everyone with some additional excitement for what you can expect to see over the next few weeks and months.

As you know, I have been running (and yes, overseeing) Noontime Sports since I launched the site in May 2009, and it has been an amazing journey that has allowed me to connect with so many great people under the athletic umbrella. I am so thankful for everyone’s ongoing support for coverage and look forward to getting back to blogging and podcasting this afternoon!

MIAA BOD Provides A Glimmer Of Hope For High School Student-Athletes

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High school soccer will occur this fall, but it will look different. (PHOTO COURTESY: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan 

Credit is due to not just the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) Board of Directors and Covid-19 Task Force, but everyone that has been working tirelessly these past few months to provide our state’s high school student-athletes with some sense of normalcy during these unprecedented times.

Wednesday’s unanimous decision by the MIAA Board of Directors to accept plans for a four-season model by the Covid-19 Task Force, including the opportunity to play football next February, should be seen as a positive. But as we know, there is still a lot of work to be done as we inch closer to the official start of a new fall season, which will look quite different than years past.

As of today, the 2020 fall sports season will begin Monday, September 18 for the following sports: soccer, gymnastics, cross-country, field hockey, girl’s volleyball, swimming and diving, and golf. And just to be clear, the start date listed above means practices, not games.

Each contest, match, and meet will look quite different. And that is because we’re living in pandemic so don’t be surprised if the soccer committee completely rewrites the rules we’re accustomed to like header, throw-ins, and slide tackles, so every participant, including coaches and officials, can feel safe on the pitch.

Modifications for each sport, which are due next Tuesday, August 25, must aline with the state’s current guidelines for Youth and Adult Amateur Sports Activities established by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA)

According to Jim Clark of the Boston Globe, the Covid-19 Task Force will review the modifications and tweaks submitted by each sport’s committee next week “for final consideration by (Jeff) Granatino and MIAA executive director Bill Gaine by Sept. 1.”

As we anxiously await for future announcements – and yes, news and notes on Twitter – I feel it is best to stop and appreciate the hard work by these men and women, who have provided our state’s student-athletes with the hope of better days to come with a return to play format.

Yes, there is still a slew of questions that need to be answered with a new fall sports season on the horizon. There will also be new wrinkles to the current plan in place, too, but as we learned last week from our friend in Connecticut, the current situation is fluid and things could change because of the coronavirus.

But for now, our state has plans in place for a brand new high school sports season, which should put a smile on everyone’s face. And while the upcoming school year and yes, athletic year, too, will be rather unique, it will be a story many of us will be eager to tell our children and grandchildren when questions about the coronavirus pandemic are brought up in the future. And as someone that loves to tell stories, I will be excited – is excited the right word? – to share my experience.

UMass Cancels Its 2020 Football Season

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The UMass Football team will not play games this fall due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. (PHOTO COURTESY: Thom Kendall/UMass Athletics)

By Matt Noonan

The University of Massachusetts joined a growing list of FBS teams that will not play football this season.

As noted in a statement from Ryan Bamford, who is the school’s athletic director, “After consulting with the university, state, and public health officials, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 UMass football season.”

Bamford stressed that the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic “posed too great of a risk” for not just the student-athletes, but everyone involved with the Minuteman’s program.

Second-year coach Walt Bell admitted he was “absolutely heartbroken” for both the current and past members of the program, along with the alumni and fanbase, too, but was extremely appreciative of everyone that helped keep everyone safe once the team arrived at campus earlier this summer.

“I would like to give an unbelievable amount of gratitude to our medical professionals, our administration, our campus, our athletic training staff, and our operations staff for creating one of the safest environments in college football,” said Bell. “The testing, the protocols, the risk mitigation, and the execution have been incredible.”

While it is uncertain if and when things with the ongoing coronavirus will settle down, Bamford did provide the program, along with all fall sports teams with some hope to play games next spring.

“We remain hopeful and fully intended to conduct a competitive schedule for our fall sports in the 2021 spring semester,” said Bamford.

13 States Will Not Play High School Football This Fall

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According to the National Federation Of State High Schools Association (NFHS), 13 states will not play football this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan

We all know playing football during a pandemic is risky – there is a lot of concern from both coaches and players regarding safety, especially when it comes to tackling or crouching in front of an opposing offensive or defensive player.

So it should come as no surprise that 13 states, including Californa, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, and Oregon have decided to not allow its high schoolers to play football this fall, according to a recent update from the National Federation Of State High Schools Association (NFHS). That number is expected to increase, not just this week, but over the next few weeks as more organizations unveil plans for allowing student-athletes to return to playing field either later this month, next month, or at some point this fall.

There are some states planning to play football this year, including Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Louisana, and Michigan – there are others, of course – while here in New England, it seems to be an unknown if and how the sport could be played safely.

As of this morning, all six New England states seem to have some plans in place for allowing fall sports teams to startup after Labor Day – here in Massachusetts, the plan would be to allow programs to return to the practice field on Monday, September 14, but that date could change due to a recent uptick in coronavirus (Covid-19) cases.

Three New England states – Connecticut, Maine, and New Hampshire – might be able to play high school football this fall, but all three seasons will be much shorter than usual.

Football in Rhode Island is a possibility – there is a schedule posted on the Rhode Island Interscholastic League (RIIL) website, but according to the organization’s Tumblr page, no decision will be made on fall sports until Monday, August 17.

Vermont’s Governor Phil Scott said fall sports would occur during last Friday’s press conference but what does that actually mean for the state’s football programs is an unknown. If football is allowed in Vermont, expect it to look a bit different than usual. Maybe we would see flag football or 7 on 7 contests?

While there is so much uncertainty surrounding fall sports, especially high school football, one must remember that the situation is fluid and plans could change, not just here in New England, but in other parts of the country. More announcements on high school football, as well as other fall sports should be coming this week – keep your eyes on Ohio where Governor Mike DeWine is supposed to make a decision about all athletic events, including high schools and youth sports. 

Watching football on both Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons would certainly provide us all with a sense of normalcy, but as I mentioned during an op-ed piece on Friday, the thought of risking the health of not just student-athletes, coaches, team representatives, officials, parents, and community members is not worth it.

Gov. Phil Scott Says Vermont Will Play High School Sports This Fall

Vermont Governor Phil Scott said high school sports will occur this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY: ANGELA EVANCIE / VPR FILE)

By NoontimeSports.com 

High school sports will occur this fall in Vermont, according to Governor Phil Scott.

Scott gave the green light for high school sports to occur this fall during yesterday’s press conference, which ended any speculation of if and when a season would occur during the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

“I know many have been wondering if there was going to be a season at all. We want to make it clear: There will be,” Scott said, via Alex Abrami and Austin Danforth of the Burlington Free Press.  

While Scott’s remarks should spark excitement for student-athletes that play fall sports in Vermont such as cross country, field hockey, soccer, and volleyball, it does not officially answer the question of if and how football can be played. Scott noted the upcoming fall sports season “will look much different” this year, which means football games and practices might look different, as well. But we should know more about the state’s plans for football next week, along with additional iunformation for the state’s other sports, too.

Vermont, which offers eight sports in the fall, would permit practices to begin Tuesday, September 8. That date could move, pending the state’s reopening plan. Additionally, spectators – 150, to be exact – would be allowed to attend games and meets this fall, but no jamborees can occur.