Friday night lights dimmed by Covid-19 pandemic
By LORENZO RECUPERO
Like an audible straight out of the unprecedented playbook, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) and Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) released joint guidance for modified high school sports seasons in the 2020-2021 school year.
The guidelines, constructed to keep student athletes safer during the Covid-19 era, modified which sports could conduct full-scheduled seasons this fall, dividing each into lower, moderate and higher risk categories. The higher risk sports, including football, cheer and basketball will not have their seasons take place during the fall and instead will have “floating” schedules, which basically means all games will be postponed for a later date while players are still allowed to practice in the interim, provided paperwork stating health guidelines are being followed are submitted.
The MIAA and DESE released this statement of the changes:
“As the Commonwealth of Massachusetts begins the process of opening schools, we must also look at the possibility of providing athletic experiences for our students. 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. Most sports can be played in ways that minimize those risks. In many cases, that will mean that interscholastic 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 canceled 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 joint attempt to salvage high school football seasons means there’s hope they can resume, but it also reveals there’s a possibility that may not happen at all.
And stripping Everett of football in the fall is like sending Cinderella to the ball in rags.
The City of Everett is dressed each autumn with accolades stitched on the turf at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
That outfit is being tucked away in the closet this time around.
Here, the beauty of fall foliage pales in comparison to that of Everett High School crimson gracing the gridiron.
But Everett will only get the foliage this time around.
Homecomings here are more like city-wide celebrations, where generations of football fans come together to celebrate a winning culture, but that won’t be happening this fall.
The Thanksgiving Day game, a staple event built into Everett’s community fabric, isn’t happening this fall either.
And football may not be canceled — yet — but if/ when it returns, it will look and feel unrecognizable.