Inside Noontime: The Beginning

By Matt Noonan 

For the past few weeks, I have been wrestling with a slew of new ideas for Noontime Sports – I wanted to start a weekly series that you, my fans and friends, could read once a week. 

Yet, I did not know exactly what this series was going to be about until I recently finished a podcast this afternoon that inspired me to not just share stories of networking and career advice, but instead to tell my story – the Noontime Sportsstory, to be exact! – with hopes of inspiring others to pursue their passion while finding something they love to do on a daily basis. 

So, with not much going on locally with college or high school sports coverage, I have decided to hit the rewind button and tell you the story of Noontime Sports – well, more this 11-year journey that has allowed me to cover so many amazing events and contests to meeting some tremendous folks, both locally and outside the New England region, that work in sports. 

The story of Noontime Sports is interesting – in fact, I never thought nor imagined I would start up a small hyperlocal media site here in Massachusetts because my main focus growing up was to pursue a life-long dream of becoming a play-by-play announcer. Writing was not my strength, but talking – yes, talking – was something I knew I could do quite well. Or at least I thought, right? 

As an eight-year-old, I was always fascinated by the various broadcasters I watched and listened to, especially on FOX Sports where I was easily amused by the soothing tones of Pat Summerall. I thought his job as a play-by-play announcer was something I would like to do when I was older – hey, getting paid to announce the big game to millions of people, both locally and around the country (and yes, the globe, too) sounded like an ideal job to someone that absolutely loved sports

My love for broadcasting would grow even stronger seven years later when I became an intern with The Needham Channel in Needham, Massachusetts, especially when I met Mike Riley, who has and continues to be an amazing friend and colleague. 

Riley to me as a 15-year-old high school student was a rock star. Deep down, I knew he was destined to do some amazing things. And so far, he has, especially here in Massachusetts where sports fans can hear him share his thoughts on the local teams on 98.5 The Sports Hub, while PA announcing goals and touchdowns through various stadium speakers, including recently with the New England Revolution

Learning from Riley was an incredible opportunity. He taught me so much about how to not just host a sports talk show, which aired once a week on The Needham Channel, but how to convey a big-time play like a touchdown or three-point conversion as a play-by-play broadcaster for the network. I was convinced I would one day work with Riley at ESPN where we would announce baseball or football or even lacrosse, but eventually, I was bit by the writing bug, which is something I credit not just my various high school English teachers, but also my college’s student newspaper editors, including the sports editor Hayden Bird, who you can currently read on Boston.com

Bird, like Riley, was tremendous at his craft. He was a great writer, but also a very good editor, too. He challenged me to become a better storyteller, especially when tasked with writing about the numerous Wheaton College (Mass.) varsity or club programs for The Wheaton Wire

Being able to learn from Bird about what makes a good story was something that would eventually lead me to leave the newspaper and launch my own weekly sports magazine as a junior – truthfully, I wanted to challenge my school’s student newspaper by telling more in-depth stories like the ones I read in ESPN The Magazine or Sports Illustrated

I decided to name the sports magazine Get In The Game, which was the same name of my radio show, which no one on campus could listen to in their car or on the radio. If you wanted anyone to listen to the nonsense you were spewing about the Boston Red Sox or Tom Brady or hear the awful music you were spinning, you had to send out a link to your family and friends. 

Producing a weekly magazine was a lot of fun, but it did take me away from my studies, as well as group projects, too. I was less interested in my history assignments because my focus during these few weeks that the magazine was being published was on the various stories I hoped to tel so I could beat my former colleagues at the student newspaper.

Get In The Game – the magazine, to be exact – was a project that filled me with great joy along with some amazing – and yes, hysterical memories like getting yelled at by the school’s librarian for printing new issues – well, a lot of issues, to be exact! – to rehashing the entire 2008 Wheaton women’s basketball championship season. 

Weeks after I stopped producing the magazine, I returned to the student newspaper with hopes of coming up with another idea. But this time, I was not looking to rival the paper. Nope, I wanted to start something that would allow both friends and recent graduates a platform where they could write and talk about sports – anyone ever heard of a podcast?

I was days away from returning to WEEI, a sports radio station here in Boston, as a production intern, and noticed they had recently redone their website and launched various blogs on the state’s various professional sports teams. 

Similar to WEEI, other websites were also launching blogs, which is something we should all credit Bill Simmons (now with The Ringer) and Dave Portnoy of Barstool Sports for leading this current revolution of sports media. 

Blogs were slowly becoming a big deal – in fact, it almost felt like blogs were not just an overnight sensation, but something myself and others would use as part of the ever-changing sports media landscape. And as someone that did not go to school for journalism – I majored in American Studies – I thought starting a blog would be a great way to build digital clips and produce content that I could show off to future employers.

But little did I realize Noontime Sports would become my future employer – that story will be discussed and observed in a future blog post – but after writing my initial post on May 14, 2009, about Duke University basketball, I became immediately obsessed with blogging. 

And thus began a journey that I hoped would be shortlived – seriously, I did not want this blog to last long as I had post-graduate visions of one day joining a digital team at ESPN or Bleacher Report, but currently, I am the digital team here at Noontime Sports – in fact, I still wear multiple hats in case you were wondering – that oversees a site that has and continues to be extremely important to me. 

Next week, I will tell you about that first year of blogging for Noontime Sports to covering my first-ever semiprofessional sports team to finagling a way to welcome Bill Hancock, who is currently the executive director of the College Football Playoff, onto my no-name podcast. 

Decisions On The 2020 College Football Could Come This Week

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The question of if and when college football returns should be answered in the coming weeks. (PHOTO COURTESY: Ken Lund on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-SA)

By Matt Noonan 

The debate about if and how college football could be played during a pandemic may be answered this week, especially after a flurry of activity this past weekend between Power 5 conferences convening remotely, per reports, to the Mid-American Athletic Conference (MAC) becoming the first F.B.S. league to cancel its 2020 season.

Last night – Sunday, August 9, to be exact – we learned the Big Ten conference, which met twice this weekend, is leaning toward canceling its football season. And if football is canceled, it is likely both the presidents and chancellors of each institution would pull the plug on other fall sports, too.

An announcement from the Big Ten is expected if not today definitely this week, and pending the league’s final decision on the 2020 fall sports season, it is possible other Power 5 conferences such as the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and Pacific-12 Conference (Pac-12) could cancel their respective fall sports seasons or perhaps make tweaks to their newly updated schedules.

While nothing official has been announced by the Big Ten or any Power 5 conference as of this morning, Bob Bowlsby, who is the commissioner of the Big 12, did provide some insight into what leagues might take into consideration when deciding to cancel games this fall: players enduring longlasting cardiac issues from contracting the coronavirus (Covid-19) that may prohibit them from future competition.

As noted in a recent story from Sports Illustrated, team doctors and physicians are worried that youth athletes, who are healthy and may be asymptomatic, could develop life-long heart problems, including myocardial, which causes damage to the heart muscle. It appears this issue is just one of many both presidents and chancellors are grappling with when it comes to making a decision on the 2020 fall sports season.

Here in New England, it appears as if both Boston College and the University of Massachusetts will play football this fall, but it is not a given that either program will play or perhaps complete its entire schedule. It is possible, pending future announcements from the Big Ten and other leagues, that both seasons could be canceled or punted to next spring.

Merrimack College, which competes in the Northeastern Conference (NEC), will have to wait and see if their football team will be allowed to play games this fall. According to last month’s update, the NEC President’s council will reconvene on Thursday, October 1 to assess the ongoing pandemic and see if it’s possible to provide not just the Warriors, but every team in the conference with some form of competition.

Other New England schools, including those that compete at both the Division II and III levels, will not be competing this fall, despite some athletic departments still not announcing that fall sports are canceled. But it is likely those announcements could come if not this week later this month once students return to campus.

At the end of the day, these are not easy decisions, so fans and football fanatics need to respect whatever is announced either today or over the next few days. Yes, no college football in the fall would seem strange, but if these decisions result in keeping the student-athletes safe, along with everyone else involved with college athletics safe and healthy, then we should applaud both the presidents and chancellors for making the right call.

Daily Noontime: Thursday, July 9, 2020

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By Matt Noonan 

Welcome to Thursday, everyone.

It is going to be a HOT one today, so make sure to drink plenty of water and stay inside. If you do venture out, please continue to be safe and wear that face covering, too.

Let’s kick off a brand new day with the ‘Daily Noontime’ – have a great day, everyone!


Noontime’s Headlines for Thursday, July 9, 2020

NCAA D-I Council Approves Voluntary Activities For Football & Basketball

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The NCAA D-I Council voted to end the current moratorium for sports through May 31st. (PHOTO COURTESY: VisualHunt.com)

By Matt Noonan 

Today was a good day for NCAA Division I basketball and football players.

The NCAA D-I Council voted to end the current moratorium this afternoon on all athletic activities through May 31 and allow student-athletes to return to their respective campus for summer workouts from June 1 to June 30.

The news of today’s announcement was confirmed and reported by Yahoo‘s Pete Thamel, as well as Sports Illustrated.

Student-athletes that compete in other sports, such as soccer or field hockey, could learn as soon as next week if they would be allowed to return to campus to start their training for hopefully a fall season.

While it is not expected that every student-athlete will bolt back to campus to begin their respective training, it is likely that schools will welcome back athletes that may be living on campus or nearby. Perhaps more athletes will follow – in fact, Thamel reported that some colleges could see up to 25 or 30 student-athletes on campus next month, but of course, social distancing will be enforced in weight rooms and other facilities

Today’s ruling could be the sign of more good news to come as the 2020 college football season is currently slated to commence at the end of August.

These upcoming workouts won’t be the same as they have been in the past, according to Sports Illusrtrated, which reported in its story that student-athletes would normally spend eight hours a week training, including six hours with their school’s training staff.

Noontime Commentary: Where Things Stand With College Football

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The question of if and when college football returns should be answered in the coming weeks. (PHOTO COURTESY: Ken Lund on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-SA)

By Matt Noonan 

For the moment, it appears as if the upcoming college football season is in limbo.

There has been a lot of talk and insight from various minds these past few weeks about the 2020 season. Some think a 12-week campaign is feasible while others are hesitant – can we really play games in the midst of a pandemic?

And then there is the issue surrounding testing. Will there be enough for every player, coach, and team representative? How many times will they need to be tested? And what happens if a coach, player, or team representative contracts the virus? Would that mean Saturday’s game against Clemson University or Florida State is canceled or postponed?

As Notre Dame‘s athletic director Jack Swarbrick told Sports Illustrated last week, “Statistically, if you have 20,000 students on campus, chances are pretty good that some are coming back with the virus. We’ll be testing like crazy.”

Testing will be the key for not just Notre Dame, but every institution – big or small – with keeping students, faculty, and staff safe during these unprecedented times.

While many are anxious for some news and announcements about the upcoming college football season, as well as if and when schools will be open, it appears those decisions should be coming in the next few weeks. And it is possible some decisions such as if and when a fall sports season could occur, may come as late as mid-July.

So, for the moment, we wait and anxiously scour the internet and social media for any breadcrumb we can find about the upcoming college football season, along with the new normal.