Daily Noontime (Wednesday, October 14, 2020)

By Matt Noonan 

Happy Wednesday, everyone! 

Yes, I know we’re posting a bit later, but after you read the ‘Daily Noontime’ for Wednesday, October 14, make sure to listen to a brand new Noontime Sports podcast with KC Chhipwadia, who is the chief executive offer and founder of Athlete Foundry. You will really enjoy this podcast – I came away very inspired by Chhipwadia’s story. 

Let’s begin this afternoon’s (and yes, today’s) ‘Daily Noontime’ with some good news: the New England Patriots are “reportedly” heading back to the practice field today. However, Jim McBride of the Boston Globe tweeted last night that the Patriots would just be at Gillette Stadium for “workouts,” not practice, so does anyone know what’s going on? 

One thing we know is that Massachusetts native Meghan Duggan, who led Team USA to a gold medal in the 2018 Olympics, announced she is retiring yesterday on Twitter

Duggan, who is from Danvers, played high school hockey locally at Cushing Academy before extending her career to the University of Wisconsin. She also played professionally for the Boston Pride of the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) and led the boycott ahead of the World Championships so the women’s national team would receive “increased pay and comparable accommodations to the men’s team.”

Staying locally, the high school soccer world has had to adapt due to the coronavirus pandemic, which included some new rules that one student-athlete considers “crazy.” This is a BAD look for high school soccer officials in the Bay State. 

Here are more links and news from the world wide web: 

  • The Southeastern Conference (SEC) has canceled not one, but two games for this upcoming weekend, including Florida vs. LSU. Uh oh! 
  • The 2020 National Basketball Association‘s (NBA) Finals ratings were not good. In fact, they were the “lowest-rated” series on ABC since the station began airing the championship contests 50 years ago. 
  • Is the youth sports world facing a crisis due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic? Maybe, according to the New York Times

Finally, Noontime Sports unveiled our first-ever ‘Noontime Original’ last night – we’re telling a story of a fictional high school football team in the Berkshires. Hopefully, you’ll read our first chapter

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


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.

It’s Time To Pull The Plug On College Football, Fall Sports


Is it time to pull the plug on college football, as well as all fall sports? (PHOTO COURTESY: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan 

It’s time to pull the plug on the upcoming college football season. It is also time to call off any and all fall sports, including field hockey, soccer, and volleyball contests.

Canceling sporting events is no easy task. These are hard decisions, but we have to respect the conferences and schools that have already elected to forgo the upcoming fall sports season due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic so they can keep not just their student-athletes safe and healthy, but also their coaches, fans, and team representatives.

Playing football or any sport during a pandemic just doesn’t seem feasible at a time when various states across the country are experiencing an uptick in cases.

Sure, some may think conferences like the Ivy League or New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) should have waited an extra week or two, but remember, they were the ones leading the way back in March when everyone was ordered to shelter in place.

Today’s news of the Patriot League means more announcements are coming. And again, we need to be respectful to any and all decisions that are made.

This past weekend, perhaps the true voice of college football – that would be Greg Sankey, who is the commissioner of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) – acknowledged in an interview with Marty & McGee on ESPN Radio that “we are running out of time to correct and get things right.”

If Sankey is concerned about the upcoming college football season, then you should be, too. And if there is no SEC football this fall, then expect no other league to play, as well.

More decisions are coming. And again, we need to be respectful to whatever these colleges and conferences decide to do. But with so much uncertainty heading into the upcoming school year, it just seems unlikely that any of us will see a college sporting event take place either here in Massachusetts or around the country until next January. And that is fine with me. 

Boston Ski & Sports Club (BSSC) Looks Forward To Returning To Play


Boston Ski and Sports Club (BSSC) are looking forward to offering sports in a safe manner this summer. (PHOTO COURTESY: BSSC/Ryan Walsh)

By NoontimeSports.com 

A lot has changed in a span of three months due to the ongoing novel coronavirus (Covid-19), including the adult sports world, which has seen an uptick in numerous leagues switching from in-person contests to virtual events like esports, trivia, and blogging, so they can remain connected with their players. 

Providing virtual events has been a great way for members of the Boston Ski & Sports Club (BSSC) community to remain connected. BSSC has offered not just video game tournaments and trivia on its Instagram account for the past few weeks, but also workout tips and recipes from various players, which have been highlighted through its website and social media channels.  

“We definitely made it a point to stay connected with the BSSC community on a weekly basis as much as we could,” said Ryan Walsh, who is the director of marketing and sponsorships with BSSC. “We didn’t want to just switch the lights off and say we’ll see you on the other side of this, so we made somewhat of a pivot to provide different offerings to launching a new section of our business and esports.” 

Esports, as Walsh noted, has become a popular outlet for many over the past few weeks and months, including BSSC players that miss competing on the flag football and soccer fields. BSSC has and continues to run esports tournaments on PlayStation and Xbox – in fact, they are offering one this evening for those interested in competing in FIFA ’20 tournament

“It’s been received extremely well,” Walsh said of his organization’s esports tournaments. “(We) have had over 100 registrations combined throughout all tournaments.” 

While video games, Instagram posts, and blogs have been a great way to stay in touch, Walsh and colleagues are eager to slowly switch back to the in-person format, but only when it safe to do so. \Massachusetts, which is currently in the second phase of its reopening, does permit adult, amateur, and youth sports leagues to resume or startup but without games. Contests would be allowed during the state’s third phase, which is currently scheduled to begin on Monday, June 29. 

Noontime Sports recently spoke with Ryan Walsh about how BSSC has not just stayed connected with its players these past few months, but also how the organization plans to return to the field hopefully this summer. 

With sports being permitted in some capacity in the second phase of the state’s reopening plan, what sort of activities will BSSC offer its athletes (and customers)? 

Our golf leagues were the first thing that could resume playing with multiple night options. We are looking at clinics for certain sports as well in a controllable environment.

Do you imagine your leagues and rules will have to be adjusted due to social distancing and safety measures? Additionally, do you think it is possible to offer some go-to/favorite sports but organize them differently?

Definitely. The rules for reopening are still evolving, but we will err on the side of caution with safety being the main priority. The guidance from the state at this time will not allow sports games to resume until the third phase, which is currently scheduled for Monday, June 29. There will be safety protocols around social distancing, hygiene, staffing, and cleaning, which will affect a lot of the logistics around the games, along with masks being worn by the staff to social distancing between games and team. And sadly, we will not allow high fives. 

We’re awaiting the protocol advice around the actual playing of games. Whatever the guidance, we’re hopeful that some go-to sports can happen with some modifications.


BSSC looks forward to playing soccer games hopefully later this summer. (PHOTO COURTESY: BSSC/Ryan Walsh)

What sport (or leagues) do you think will be in high demand for your athletes? And do you envision most leagues will be held outside? 

Soccer and softball are our two largest sports so those will be in demand once we can safely return to the field and diamond. The second phase of our state’s reopening is only allowing indoor sports for youth, so if this continues into the next phase then we will not be able to offer indoor leagues. However, we will be excited no matter what when games can be played. 

As of now, we have many outdoor league locations, and with folks having been cooped up for so long we think they will be excited to get outside. It also won’t be a surprise to see more of our social sports like kickball receive a boost as we think people will want to rally their friends to get together for that sport. 

Obviously, safety and health will be the main focus when it comes to restarting/running these leagues, so what should players expect after signing up and arriving at the field/facility for their first game (or event)? 

Massachusetts released a set of standards last week for the recreation sector, which again is part of the current phase we’re in. We anticipate that a lot of those standards will continue into the third phase, but we are monitoring that closely and will modify our standards accordingly. 

At this time, however, we think our players should expect some logistical rules around social distancing before and after games to using hand sanitizer and minimizing the use of shared equipment. We will ask players to monitor their health – if they have symptoms then we will politely request that they do not play. And we will be mindful of those players who seem concerned or worried about contracting the virus. 

Finally, does BSSC have leagues scheduled to start either later this month/early July? 

We’ve pushed start dates a few different times at this point, but the short answer is yes, as of now we have start dates in that timeframe but are still waiting to see the developments of the reopening at the moment. 

The BSSC General Statement: Since 1967, Boston Ski & Sports Club’s mission of remaining Boston’s Way to Play continues to reach over 50,000 participants annually. BSSC’s staff remains dedicated to making certain that participants continue to have access to the best events, sports leagues, ski trips, and adventure travel in New England. The focus each year is to remain rooted in our community by offering competitive pricing, a tremendous experience, and a dedication to excellence to create affirmative long-term relationships with our members, participants, and partners.

Gov. Baker Paves The Way For Pro Sports To Return To Massachusetts


Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker provided a glimmer of hope for live sports to return in the coming weeks. (PHOTO COURTESY: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan 

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker clearly misses sports – we all know he is a proud supporter of our state’s hometown teams.

So on Friday, Baker announced that the state’s professional teams would be allowed to begin practicing as soon as Saturday, June 6. That is also the same date Massachusetts residents should learn more about the second phase of the state’s reopening plan, which would begin Monday, June 8.

“I know we still aren’t to the point where we’ll have our pro sports teams back playing anything yet,” Baker said during Friday’s press briefing. “The leagues are obviously working hard to host games again. And I think we all hope that at some point, opening practice facilities will help make that happen a little sooner.”

Professional sports have been idle since mid-March when the National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL) paused their respective seasons due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Since then, both leagues have been working diligently to find a way to restart their seasons safely in “hub cities.”

Major League Baseball (MLB) delayed the start of its 2020 season but continues to be stuck in neutral due to ongoing contract discussions between the players and owners.

Both Major League Soccer (MLS) and the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) have announced plans to return to the pitch in the coming weeks, which should excited local New England Revolution fans.

Baker believes live sports would certainly help all of us during this unprecedented time. Additionally, it would be a great outlet for many, who have been consuming older contests these past few weeks, including a 2007 playoff run by the Boston Red Sox on NESN.

“I think for all of us live sports, and especially pro sports would be a great thing to see again because not only will it be a significant milestone for those of us who are fans but it will also send a big signal that we’ve continued to do all the things that we need to do to contain and control the virus,” said Baker.