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.
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 tomake 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 asI 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.
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.
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).
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.
The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) will not be playing football this fall. In fact, TCNJ will not be competing in any ‘high in-person contact‘ activities throughout the fall semester, according to President Kathryn A. Foster, who shared the news through the school’s website.
Friday’s announcement follows a few other schools, including Bowdoin College and UMass Boston, that announced earlier this week that they would not be playing sports this fall either. Additionally, Morehouse College, a member of NCAA D-II, canceled its upcoming cross country and football season earlier today while Pratt Institute (N.Y.) announced yesterday that none of their fall athletic programs would be competing for an American Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA) crown.
Foster expressed sympathy toward the school’s student-athletes that won’t have a chance to compete for the Lions this fall, including those that partake in intramural and club sports. But Foster did say that coaches and trainers can “arrange workouts and other individual fitness activities” while the Student Affairs staff will organize “low-contact recreational and cultural offerings.”
“I know how unfortunate and deeply disappointing this is for the many performers and athletes, coaches, and supporters who were looking forward to a fall season,” Foster said in today’s announcement. “I look forward to it, too. Yet the science on COVID-19 finds that activities with high in-person contact or proximity have the greatest likelihood of broad and rapid virus spread, a circumstance that at TCNJ could mean (a) shutdown of the campus.”
COVID-19 hasn’t been kind to the Garden State, which currently has recorded 172,000 confirmed cases and 14,872 deaths. But like most states in the northeast, including New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, the numbers and data are trending in the right direction, which could mean sports could return to TCNJ this winter.
Said Foster, “If all goes well in fall, we may be able to allow some performance and winter sports preparation.”
Some college athletic folks seem more pessimistic than optimistic about having football games on campus this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)
By Matt Noonan
It may be late June, but the thought of college sports taking place this fall, specifically in New England seems hard to fathom due to the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Sure, the numbers and data seem to be trending in the right direction in all six New England states, but before a slew of major announcements occurs next month, two schools have already announced plans to forgo the upcoming fall sports season.
Does this mean the Beacons of UMass Boston won’t be playing until this winter or next spring? Possibly, but as Newman said in today’s update about the fall semester, “If there were a way to make a different decision in a manner that we feel is responsible, we surely would. Sadly, the virus is spreading amongst athletes in states that have opened up. We don’t want that to happen to our Beacons. “
Indeed, the virus has impacted a slew of NCAA D-I schools and programs, including Clemson University and Louisiana State University (LSU). Additionally, it was reported lasted week that Kansas State had to press pause on its voluntary workouts for14 days due to some student-athletes testing positive.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus is here to stay – most likely, we won’t resume a sense of normalcy until a vaccine is developed, but it is expected that more news of positive tests and schools forgoing fall sports to keep their students – and yes, their student-athletes safe – will be announced in the coming days and weeks.
Rooting for schools to be open so students can return to campus is something we should all want, especially during such unprecedented times.
But unfortunately, this virus does not take vacations and will certainly continue to be with us when school bells begin to ring in late August and early September, which means it won’t be easy for football, soccer, field hockey, and volleyball games to be played this fall.
Boston Ski and Sports Club (BSSC) are looking forward to offering sports in a safe manner this summer. (PHOTO COURTESY: BSSC/Ryan Walsh)
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.”
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)?
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.