No High School Football, Cheerleading This Fall

By SCOTT JACKSON

Most high school sports teams will be able to go ahead with their seasons this fall amid the coronavirus pandemic, but football and cheerleading have been pushed to a new floating season that would start later in the academic year.

The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association on Tuesday issued new guidance on high school athletics for the upcoming school year.

“Sports can be an important part of a well-rounded educational experience, even during the current public health crisis. Notwithstanding the risks associated with COVID-19, organized physical activity should be encouraged, within clear health and safety parameters,” the DESE and MIAA said. “Most sports can be played in ways that minimize those risks.

“In many cases, that will mean that inter-scholastic competitions may not look the same and may need to be played under fairly stringent restrictions with modified rules. Unfortunately, in some cases, competitive play may need to be cancelled or postponed. While difficult for all involved, it is essential that we keep health and safety paramount, both for everyone directly involved and the wider community.”

The new guidance allows most fall sports teams – including golf, cross-country, field hockey, soccer, gymnastics, girls’ volleyball and fall swimming and diving – to begin their seasons on Sept. 18.

Three sports – football, cheerleading and unified basketball – would not be allowed to go ahead with their seasons on that date. Those teams, however, would be allowed to practice starting on Sept. 18 and could begin playing games during a floating season that would start sometime later in the school year.

The DESE and MIAA guidance does not include start dates for the winter or spring sports seasons. The guidance also notes that higher-risk sports that play during those seasons – including hockey, basketball, wrestling, boys’ lacrosse and rugby – might also have their seasons pushed back to a floating season.

The guidance also sets new rules for athletics in districts with remote-only learning.

Districts designated as “red” based on the Department of Public Health’s metrics, and thus have their students learning remotely, must postpone their entire season, including practices, to the floating season.

Districts designated as “yellow,” “green” or “unshaded” by the DPH that also have high school students learning remotely can participate in the regularly scheduled season with approval from the local school committee.

The guidance states that the MIAA “will develop a timeline for looking at data prior to the start of each season to determine which color-coded designation a district should fall into for the purposes of engaging in sports.” It suggests, for example, that Sept. 1 could be used as date to determine initial eligibility for the fall season, which could be rechecked on Oct. 1.

Quincy Presidents 20 – North Quincy Red Raiders 6

Quincy Presidents celebrate their 20-6 victory over rival North Quincy in the 87th annual Thanksgiving Day football game Thursday morning at Veterans’ Memorial Stadium. Derek Little, Isaiah Steinberg and Devin Desmond scored first-half touchdowns for the Presidents in the victory. North Quincy’s Josh Jackson scored for the Red Raiders in the second half for the 20-6 final score. With the win Quincy snapped North Quincy’s three-game winning streak in the traditional holiday match-up. Quincy now leads the series over North Quincy with 48 wins. NQ has 34 wins and there have been 5 ties in the storied rivalry. Quincy Sun Photo/Robert Bosworth
Quincy School Supt. Dr. Richard DeCristofaro presents the City Football Championship Trophy to Quincy High School following the Presidents’ 20-6 win over the North Quincy Red Raiders Thanksgiving morning. Quincy Sun Photo/Robert Bosworth
Quincy running back Isaiah Steinberg had a strong game on the ground for the Presidents and scored Quincy’s second touchdown. Here he battles North Quincy’s Brendan Hines for some extra yards. Quincy Sun Photo/Robert Bosworth
Quincy wide receiver Derek Little hauls in a 23-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Drew Boretti for the Presidents’ first touchdown. Defending for North Quincy is Brendan Hines. Quincy Sun Photo/Robert Bosworth
Quincy wide receiver Devin Desmond scored the Presidents’ third touchdown on a 62-yard reception late in the second quarter to give the Presidents an insurmountable 20-0 lead over North Quincy. Quincy Sun Photo/Robert Bosworth
Quincy defensive end Devante Williams pressures North Quincy quarterback Cooper Hansen in the Presidents’ 20-6 win over the Red Raiders in the 87th annual city football championship. Quincy Sun Photo/Robert Bosworth
North Quincy got on the scoreboard in the third quarter when running back Josh Jackson scored on a three-yard run. Quincy Sun Photo/Robert Bosworth
Quincy linebacker Thomas Le wraps up North Quincy’s Tyler Le. Quincy’s defense gave up only one touchdown in the team’s 20-6 win over the Red Raiders Thanksgiving Day morning. Quincy Sun Photo/Robert Bosworth
North Quincy’s Andrew Gott eyes some yards after a reception from quarterback Cooper Hansen. Moving in for the Presidents is Devin Desmond.
Quincy’s fans celebrate a Presidents’ touchdown in the team’s 20-6 win over rival North Quincy Thanksgiving Day morning at Veterans’ Memorial Stadium. With the win Quincy finished the season 3-8; North Quincy also finished their season with a 3-8 record. More coverage of the Quincy-North Quincy football game in the Dec. 5th issue of The Quincy Sun. Quincy Sun Photo/Robert Bosworth