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.