Massachusetts High School Football Will Compete Next February

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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.

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.

Massachusetts Updates Its Phase III, Step I Sports & Recreation Protocols

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The state of Massachusetts shifted soccer from a high-risk sport to a moderate risk activity on Friday, July 24. (PHOTO: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan 

Earlier this month, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker decided the state was ready to move into the third phase of its reopening, which allowed for games and competitions for some sports to begin under the first step of the protocols, including adult, amateur, and youth baseball.

One sport – soccer – was initially deemed a high-risk activity, but was recently downgraded to the moderate risk category on Friday – we learned of this change earlier today from Matt Feld, who is a reporter for the Boston Herald.

In addition to reclassifying soccer, two other sports – cross-country and individual crew – were downgraded from moderate risk to lower risk.

The latest update of which sports the state considers lower, moderate and higher risk can be found HERE.

As noted in the state’s document for sports and recreational activities in Phase III, Step I, all sports, including lower risk athletics such as tennis, swimming, and horseback riding, must adhere to the ‘type of play’ guidelines in order to successfully compete in both games and practices. The four types of play are listed below:

  • Level 1: Individual or socially distanced group activities (no-contact workouts, aerobic conditioning, individual skill work, and drills)
  • Level 2: Competitive Practices (Intra-team/group games, contact drills, and scrimmages)
  • Level 3: Competitions (Inter-team games, meets, matches, races, etc.)
  • Level 4: Tournaments (Outdoor only)

The news of today’s tweak from Gov. Baker’s office should be viewed as a positive – perhaps it means if high school sports were to occur this fall, these three sports, along with a few others could be allowed to at least practice or participate in some inter-team games. But today’s news does not bode well for football, which remains a high-risk activity, along with wrestling, rugby, basketball, lacrosse, ice hockey, competitive cheerleading, martial arts, and ultimate frisbee

Those that play football at say the high school or youth level in Massachusetts are permitted to participate in either individual or socially distanced group activities.

New England High School Sports Most Likely Won’t Start Until September

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High School fall sports could happen in New England, but a lot of unknowns remain. (PHOTO: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan 

A few months ago, we started to debate if and when a college football season would occur. But that debate is slowly ending – as of now, most New England conferences and schools have elected to punt on the upcoming fall sports season due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

And while more decisions should be coming over the next few days and weeks – will Boston College really play football or soccer this fall? – the focus has quickly shifted to our local high school student-athletes, who are eager to return to the playing field.

High school sports abruptly ended in March due to stay-at-home orders and lockdowns so everyone could stay safe and healthy. But now, some states, including Florida and Georgia, are planning to allow teams to begin preparations for their respective seasons next week while Texas has informed two of its conferences (5A and 6A) that they won’t be holding any practices until early September.

Here in Massachusetts, high school sports cannot begin until Monday, September 14 while Maine won’t permit teams to begin their respective campaigns until Tuesday, September 8. And mind you, these dates are for practices, not games. 

New Hampshire should provide its student-athletes with some guidance and plans for a fall season over the next week or two, according to Ryan O’Leary of Seacoastonline.com, who recently spoke with Jeff Collins, who heads the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association (NHIAA).

Vermont is not planning to begin its fall season next month and most likely Connecticut and Rhode Island won’t allow any of its teams to practice in August either.

While many want to see our local student-athletes back on the field this year, one should remember that this pandemic has taught us the following: things can change pretty quickly. And while it should be viewed as a positive that all six committees are working tirelessly to develop plans and guidelines for their student-athletes to safely return to the field, it is not definite that all six New England states will begin their fall seasons on these exact dates.

Seeing our local high school sports teams in action this fall would certainly provide us with some sense of normalcy, but before any games or practices are held, the first step should be to find a way to safely return students, teachers, and principals to the classroom. And once that is done properly then sports, along with additional extracurricular activities should begin.

Daily Noontime: Wednesday, July 22, 2020

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By Matt Noonan 

Welcome to the midway point (a.k.a Wednesday).

It is rather gloomy outside, so make sure to bring a raincoat or umbrella in case you head out the door shortly. But before we dive into emails, Zoom calls and other work, let’s dish out a brand new ‘Daily Noontime’ for Wednesday, July 22, 2020.

As usual, have a great day, everyone, and remember to keep wearing a smile on your face – better days are ahead!


Noontime’s Headlines for Wednesday, July 22, 2020