Daily Noontime (Tuesday, October 13, 2020)

By NoontimeSports.com

Welcome to a very rainy Tuesday, everyone! 

It’s going to be a VERY rainy day here in Massachusetts so it is probably best for everyone to stay inside and watch Netflix, right? 

Let’s kick-start your day with a brand new ‘Daily Noontime,’ beginning with some news about Cam Newton and our hometown New England Patriots

As of now, it seems possible that Patriots fans could see Cam Newton on the field next Sunday when the Patriots host the Denver Broncos, but as the team’s head coach Bill Belichick noted during his weekly radio appearance with WEEI‘s “Ordway, Merloni & Fauria, the veteran signal-caller “would have to go through medical clearance” before being allowed to rejoin his teammates on the practice field.   

Newton is one of four Patriots to have tested positive for the coronavirus, but according to a few reports this morning, including PatriotsWire, it seems likely that the 2015 National Football League (NFL) quarterback will be back in the huddle at some point this week, which should be considered good news for the Patriots. Additionally, fans should expect Stephon Gilmore back on the field, too – we certainly need his help on defense! 

Sticking with the football theme, the NFL will be testing players and coaches on game days, along with “some other employees of each team,” as noted in Kevin Seifert‘s piece on ESPN.com, which was posted late last night. Seifert also noted a few more tweaks to the league’s update Covid-19 protocols, which include everyone wearing masks during walk-through practices to coaches having to wear either masks or double-layered gaiters during games. 

Let’s switch gears to the Boston Red Sox, who will have the fourth pick in the 2021 Major League Baseball (MLB) Draft. The last time the Red Sox picked fourth in a draft was in 1967. 

Boston concluded its 60-game season with a 24-36 mark, which was good for a fifth-place finish in the American League East. The Baltimore Orioles, who have previously occupied the last spot in the division in previous seasons, finished fourth this year with an overall record of 25-35. 

Did you know that two of six teams in the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) were independently owned? And did you know one of those two independently owned teams happens to play in hour home state? 

Yep, the Boston Pride, which recorded the best record last year and also secured a spot in the Isobel Cup, is one of the two teams that independently owned – it appears their setup will be the model for the league’s six teams going forward, according to a recent report (and yes, story, too!) from the New York Times

And finally, make sure to read the latest Boston Cannons legend spotlight on Sean Morris, who played locally at the University of Massachusetts (Amherst) before becoming a star of the local Major League Lacrosse (MLL) franchise. It’s a great read! 

Daily Noontime (Tuesday, September 22, 2020)

By NoontimeSports.com

Welcome to Tuesday, everyone! 

As you know, we’re back to producing a ‘Daily Noontime’ every day – well, every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday to be exact – and we are excited. And speaking of being excited – yes, we’re smiling while writing this post! – let’s kickstart a brand new day with the Daily Noontime for Tuesday, September 22, 2020. 

Be well, stay safe, and keep smiling, everyone! 

Viva Las Vegas (Raiders)! 

After scoring a wild – and yes, crazy – opening day win against the Carolina Panthers, the Las Vegas Raiders won its first-ever contest in the state of Nevada as the Silver and Black topped the New Orleans Saints by a score of 34-24. 

Derek Carr highlighted his team’s second-straight win by completing 28 of 38 passes for 282 yards and three touchdowns while Darren Waller led all receivers (and yes, tight ends) with 12 catches for 103 yards and one score.

Las Vegas has posted 34 points in back-to-back games and will look to continue its early-season momentum on Sunday when they visit the New England Patriots.  

DraftKings continues to expand its portfolio 

While 2020 has been a year of ups and downs, it has also been a year of positives for DraftKings, which not only when public in the spring, but has continued to expand its daily fantasy (and yes, sportsbook) empire. 

Recently, the Boston-based daily fantasy company inked a new deal with Athletes Unlimited to expand the league’s fan experience as they head into the final days of their initial softball season. 

Athletes United has been in the news lately for its professional women’s softball league, which concludes September 28, but they will also have an indoor volleyball league that will startup next February. 

More headlines (and yes, links!):

UMass Football Will Play Football This Fall

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The UMass football team will play games this fall despite canceling its season in August. (PHOTO COURTESY: Eva Trainer/Daily Collegian)

By Matt Noonan 

One month after announcing its 2020 season had been canceled, the University of Massachusetts has decided to reverse course and allow its football team an opportunity to play some games this fall, beginning as soon as next month. 

The decision to return to the gridiron was announced earlier today and was based on the program’s “stringent COVID-19 safety protocols and rigorous testing regimen,” which has been in place since the student-athletes returned to the Amherst campus in June. Additionally, the school – and yes, the program, too – watched other schools and conferences announce they would be returning to the field over the past few weeks after initially deciding to cancel their respective season due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

UMass has administered more than 1,800 coronavirus tests over the past 13 weeks with just two tests coming back positive. The school plans to continue testing its student-athletes, coaches, and staff members multiple times per week, and has the capacity to ramp up testing if needed to “meet additional opponent requirements in order to play games, if necessary.” 

“Today is a great day for Massachusetts Football,” coach Walt Bell said, via today’s release about the Minutemen returning to the gridiron this fall. “Everyone associated with our program is excited to play football this fall.” 

Bell would continue by adding that he and the program “are grateful to our campus leadership for supporting academic and competitive opportunities for our student-athletes and staff to do what they love in a safe manner.” 

UMass was scheduled to compete against 12 teams this fall, but the expectation is their new schedule will consist of fewer teams. Dates and opponents will be announced at a later date and time, and the school will not permit fans at McGuirk Alumni Stadium this fall. 

UMass Cancels Its 2020 Football Season

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The UMass Football team will not play games this fall due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. (PHOTO COURTESY: Thom Kendall/UMass Athletics)

By Matt Noonan

The University of Massachusetts joined a growing list of FBS teams that will not play football this season.

As noted in a statement from Ryan Bamford, who is the school’s athletic director, “After consulting with the university, state, and public health officials, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 UMass football season.”

Bamford stressed that the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic “posed too great of a risk” for not just the student-athletes, but everyone involved with the Minuteman’s program.

Second-year coach Walt Bell admitted he was “absolutely heartbroken” for both the current and past members of the program, along with the alumni and fanbase, too, but was extremely appreciative of everyone that helped keep everyone safe once the team arrived at campus earlier this summer.

“I would like to give an unbelievable amount of gratitude to our medical professionals, our administration, our campus, our athletic training staff, and our operations staff for creating one of the safest environments in college football,” said Bell. “The testing, the protocols, the risk mitigation, and the execution have been incredible.”

While it is uncertain if and when things with the ongoing coronavirus will settle down, Bamford did provide the program, along with all fall sports teams with some hope to play games next spring.

“We remain hopeful and fully intended to conduct a competitive schedule for our fall sports in the 2021 spring semester,” said Bamford.

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.