By Max Bowenfirstname.lastname@example.org
As the start of the fall season approaches, athletic directors are working to finalize just what will be played and when.
In a statement released by the Hockomock League—of which North Attleborough is a member—it was announced motions had been approved for sport start dates, practices, and spectators at games. The Massachusetts Interscholastic League Athletic Association [MIAA] start date for Fall athletics is Sept. 18. This is the first day of the religious holiday of Rosh Hashanah. The League Principals voted to leave the start date up to the individual school, and so some practices on Sept. 18 and others on Sept. 21.
Volleyball, originally among those sports that could begin in September, has been moved to the newly-created “wedge season,” which begins on Feb. 21. This season has been created for high-risk fall sports such as football and competitive cheer, as well as fall sports that carry a moderate risk that districts determine cannot be played. Sports allowed during the fall season include golf, cross country running, field hockey, gymnastics, soccer, and fall swimming.
Football, volleyball, unified basketball, and competitive cheer have been moved to practice and compete in the Fall 2 season that begins on Feb. 22. Principals of the schools in the league approved a motion to govern these four sports under the MIAA guidelines, and there will be no practices until the issue is re-investigated on or before Nov. 1
“The Hock realizes the reality of many schools starting in a remote-only structure, keeping buildings closed, as well as hybrid schools not having appropriate access to their gymnasiums,” the statement read.
Recently, the MIAA approved Out-of-Season Coaching from Sept. 18-July 3. This allows athletic programs to run practices all year. In order to minimize the amount of student extracurricular activity and limit student cohort interactions, the principals voted for the League to continue to follow the MIAA guidelines on out-of-season coaching until at least Nov. 1.
Spectators at games and practices were also among the motions voted on. No more than 50 people— excluding players, coaches, referees, or facility/activity workers— will be allowed in the playing area or start/finish lines at any one time. The rules require adequate space for all participants to maintain at least six feet of social distancing.
“Spectators must wear facial coverings and maintain six feet of social distance at all times,” the statement read.
In order to enforce the restrictions on attendance, the Hockomock League will only be allowing spectators associated with the host school into the facility. All spectators are strongly discouraged from traveling to away games, since they will not be allowed into the host school’s facility. The method by which each host school chooses to admit fans will be decided at the individual district level.
“We are grateful for the opportunity for our Fall athletes to return to the playing field,” the statement read. “While the seasons are date-modified, the sectional and state tournaments canceled, and the sports are modified for health and safety, the student athletes will gain competitive experience and learn life lessons in these challenging and difficult times. Our students will greatly benefit and t heir social and emotional health will prosper.”