August 13, 2020 by Joshua Ross
The guidance for Massachusetts Youth and Amateur sports for Phase III Step 1 was issued by the state's working group this morning. The group, comprised of members of DESE, the EEA, and the Governor's Office, issued a 13-page document outlining the risk levels for each sport, along with specific activities such as practices, games, and tournaments that can and can not take place.
Sports are divided into three categories, Green - low risk, Yellow - moderate risk, and Red - high risk. Each category has four levels of activities. Depending on the risk and the precautions taken by leagues and teams will determine what level of activity a team/player can partake.
Sports deemed to be low-risk are tennis, golf, swimming, gymnastics, individual crew, and cross country. Sports in the moderate-risk category are baseball, softball, soccer, girl's lacrosse, crew, volleyball, track and field, field hockey, and team swimming. Sports in the high-risk category are football, hockey, basketball, rugby, boy's lacrosse, and competitive cheer.
The four levels of activity are the following:
• Level 1: Individual or socially distanced group activities (non-contact workouts, aerobic conditioning, individual skill work, and drills)
• Level 2: Competitive Practices (Intra-team/group games, contact drills, and scrimmages)
• Level 3: Competitions (Inter-team games, meets, matches, races, etc.)
• Level 4: Tournaments (Outdoor only)
Depending on the sports risk category, here is what level leagues/teams are allowed to participate:
• Sports and activities included in the low-risk category can participate in Level 1, 2, 3, and 4 type of play.
• Sports and activities included in the moderate-risk category can participate in Level 1 as traditionally played. Level 2 and Level 3 play are only allowed if the minimum mandatory standards for modification to play are met.
• Sports and activities included in the high-risk category can participate in Level 1 as traditionally played. Level 2 and Level 3 play are only allowed if the minimum mandatory standards for modification to play are met.
The set of minimum mandatory standards for modification to play will be be very difficult for certain sports, such as football, hockey, basketball, and lacrosse to meet. The mandatory guidance of "deliberate close contact must be eliminated" includes, but not limited to blocking, body checking, tackling, and collisions. If these high-risk sports want to participate in Level 2 or 3 activities, these things must be eliminated before they are allowed to play. The full list of requirements are in the document linked below.
Now that the guidance is issued by the state, MIAA has three business days to vote on their plans for the fall. MIAA is the governing high school sports body in the state.
The Anchor will be reaching out to the Hingham Youth Sports Organizations and High School Athletic Department for their reactions and plans going forward. Stay tuned.
Here is the link to the full report.