The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association took a big step forward Wednesday in its bid to see high school sports be held in some form for the 2000-2021 school year.
The key words during the two-hour portion of the meeting devoted to 11 recommendations presented by the MIAA’s COVID-19 Task Force were fluidity and flexibility as what may work in September might not be viable in October, let alone February or May.
“We all have to understand there is fluidity to this,” said Keith Crowley, a Board of Directors co-chair and St. John’s Prep principal. “We’d like to have definitive answers about this and say, ‘This is the structure no matter what.’
“I don’t think this year we can have that stance, so if there are things that impede us in reaching the goal of having the structure then we will have to reconvene and address that.”
All of the recommendations passed unanimously with the exception of the waiving of Rule 40, which will allow for out of season coaching from Sept. 18, 2020 to July 3, 2021. That vote was 13-7 in favor.
Westboro principal Brian Callaghan, Millbury assistant principal Patrick Mara, Quabbin Regional athletic director Mark Miville and Grafton principal Jim Pignataro — the four representatives from the two districts in central Massachusetts — all voted against the proposal.
Here are the highlights, recognizing there was often extensive conversation about many of them:
• The start of fall sports will be Sept. 18. That’s four days later than the Board of Directors approved last month due to the fact the state pushed back the start of the school year by up to 10 days with most districts now starting Sept. 16. This allows students to get acclimated to school before beginning athletics.
• The season structure is as follows: Sept. 18 to Nov. 20 for fall sports, Nov. 30 to Feb. 21 for winter sports, Feb. 22 to April 25 for fall sports II (football, fall cheering, unified basketball) and April 26 to July 3 for spring sports. It’s important to note that sports not played in the fall and winter would have the option of moving into the second fall season.
• The respective sports committees for boys’ and girls’ soccer, fall gymnastics, boys’ and girls’ cross-country, field hockey, girls’ volleyball, fall swimming and diving and golf will work in conjunction with the Sports Medicine Committee to meet the Level 3 requirements outlined by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
They have until Tuesday to get their work done, so a tight deadline.
The COVID-19 Task Force will review that work on Aug. 27 and share the final fall sports modifications with MIAA executive director Bill Gaine and MIAA president Jeff Garantino for final consideration by Sept. 1.
• Schools are encouraged to create a fall schedule within leagues, or geographic regions to limit travel and the number of opponents.
• MIAA sponsored postseason tournaments for the fall season are eliminated. Leagues and districts are allowed to conduct their own tournaments if they so elect, along as they meet all state guidelines.
• The Board of Directors will set aside time at its Oct. 29 meeting to consider recommendations from the COVID-19 Task force with regard to the winter sports season.