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

HSSOCWEB

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.

Massachusetts High School Football Will Compete Next February

HSFBWEBNS0820

Some fall sports will be allowed to play this fall, while high school football will not be allowed until next February. (PHOTO COURTESY: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan 

There will be no high school football games in Massachusetts this fall due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

But there is hope for the state’s local gridiron stars to play some games next February as the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) Board of Directors unanimously approved recommendations from the organization’s COVID-19 Task Force to allow four seasons to occur this upcoming school year.

Football, which is deemed a higher-risk activity by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), will compete during the “floating season,” which is scheduled to kick off Monday, February 22, and conclude Sunday, April 25. Cheerleading, unified basketball, and any other fall sport that cannot compete during the initial fall season, which is scheduled to commence Friday, September 18, will also be allowed to play games during the Fall II season, according to one of 11 recommendations approved by the Board of Directors.

With yesterday’s decision to delay the start of the 2020 high school football season, Massachusetts joins a growing list of other states that won’t play games this fall, including Colorado, Nevada, and North Carolina – all three states are scheduled to kick off their respective seasons in February, too.

Locally, the debate of if and when a high school football will occur continues to be a hot topic, especially in New Hampshire where some districts plan to play games this fall while others will not. According to WMUR, Bedford will not allow its student-athletes to play football or soccer, as well as compete for its crew team, but will permit bass fishing, cross country, field hockey, golf, and outdoor volleyball with some restrictions.

It is possible football and soccer may not occur in Maine this fall due to recent state guidelines presented by the Maine Principals’ Association (MPA) on Wednesday.

Here in Massachusetts, high school sports fans will be treated to some of the usual fall activities, including soccer, gymnastics, cross country, field hockey, girl’s volleyball, swimming and diving, and golf. However, the rules for all these sports will most likely be tweaked by each sport’s committee and the MIAA Sports Medicine Committee.

While there won’t be football games played on Friday evenings or Saturday afternoons this fall, teams will be permitted to practice but must adhere to the EEA’s guidelines for activities in Phase III, Step 1.

Where Things Stand With High School Fall Sports

HSFBWEBSOCIAL072120

Various states are beginning to announce plans for the upcoming high school fall sports season. (PHOTO: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan

For the past few months, high school sports have been at a standstill due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. But with a new school year on the horizon, many are beginning to wonder if and when high school sports will resume, not just here in Massachusetts, but in other parts of the country.

As of now, there are a few states planning to keep high school sports on the sidelines until 2021, while others such as Florida and Georgia will allow preseason practices to begin as soon as next Monday, July 27.

Yesterday, the California Interscholastic Federation announced plans to delay the start of its fall sports season until December, but it is possible games and practices could be shifted to next January due to a recent uptick in coronavirus cases.

In Texas, some teams will start their preseason workouts in two weeks – that would be Monday, August 3, to be exact – while two conferences (5A and 6A) won’t be allowed to practice until Monday, September 7.

Here in Massachusetts, the hope for a high school sports season hinges on future announcements from both the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA).

Pending Massachusetts does allow high school sports to be played this year, the official start date for all athletic programs would be Monday, September 14. The date, which was proposed by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) Covid-19 Task Force, was approved by the organization’s Board of Directors during this afternoon’s virtual meeting. 

As for what sports will be allowed to play this fall in Massachusetts? That remains an unknown, but guidelines for extracurricular activities, including sports should become available by early August. Those plans will also include guidance for other activities like choir and musical theatre.

Similar to Massachusetts, Maine won’t begin its fall sports season until Tuesday, September 8 following today’s decision by the Maine Principals’ Association (MPA). Games can begin 10 days later, but not before 3 p.m. 

MIAA, RIIL Cancels Spring Sports

SoftballWEB

Four New England states have canceled high school spring sports. (VISUALHUNT.com)

By Matt Noonan 

Both Massachusetts and Rhode Island joined Maine and New Hampshire by canceling its state’s spring high school sports season this afternoon.

The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) and Rhode Island Interscholastic League (RIIL) both shared this news on their respective Twitter accounts.

Both states are abiding by the advice of Governors Charlie Baker and Gina Raimondo, who have ordered both Massachusetts and Rhode Island to conclude their respective academic schools years online, not in-person.

Connecticut has not canceled its spring sports season, but the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) announced yesterday they will “not run any spring state championship events.” The CIAC could, however, have a regular-season in June, but that would only occur if schools reopen. Connecticut is not scheduled to reopen until May 20.

The Vermont Principals’ Association (VPA) will make an announcement regarding its spring sports season on Thursday, April 30.

Maine and New Hampshire announced the cancelations of its states’ spring sports season earlier this month.

Springs Sports In Massachusetts Will Most Likely Not Happen

baseball-softball-clay-ball-sport-game-league

Could Massachusetts see a high school spring sports season? (PHOTO COURTESY: Visualhunt.com)

By Matt Noonan

With yesterday’s announcement by Governor Charlie Baker regarding schools remaining online (and remote) for the remainder of the school year due to COVID-19, it seems most likely that a spring high school sports season will not occur. But an official announcement has not yet been made by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) as of late this morning.

Hours after Baker’s announcement of both private and public schools remaining closed for the remainder of the academic school year, the MIAA tweeted the following yesterday afternoon: “Difficult news received from Governor Baker today. A formal MIAA BOD statement regarding the status of 2020 spring sports will be provided by weeks end.”

While high school athletic directors, coaches, and student-athletes, as well as fans, eagerly await an official announcement from the MIAA, it seems most likely that Massachusetts will become the third New England state to cancel its spring sports season like Maine and New Hampshire did earlier this month.

Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Vermont have not canceled its spring high school sports seasons, but perhaps yesterday’s news by Baker could result in more cancelations across the region, along with schools not being open until possibly next fall.

The MIAA canceled its basketball and hockey winter championships last month, naming both state finalists as co-champions.