AUGUSTA – The Maine Principals’ Association cleared its final hurdle on Friday to release its “revised fall sports guidance.”
Based on previous versions of their return to play protocols, Thursday’s announcement brought few surprises for some on the receiving end of the news.
“Nothing that was on any of the guidelines I that I read was anything that I hadn’t heard before….Nothing really surprised me,” said Rick Sinclair, athletic director at Hermon High School.
Per an email sent directly to school athletic administrators, the MPA will not sponsor football or volleyball this fall. Schools are free to offer intrasquad 7 vs. 7 flag football or touch football. While the MPA will not sponsor volleyball competition this fall, schools can offer outdoor volleyball as an activity.
Soccer, field hockey, golf and cross country competition will be offered this fall to varying degrees. The updated 2020 MPA Soccer Bulletin states that no regional or state championships will be held this year. Golf and cross country have been cleared for statewide competition, per the Department of Economic and Community Developement’s Phase 2 Community Sport Guidelines; but no specific information has been shared by the MPA.
Sideline cheer can be offered as a fall activity, outdoors only.
Additional guidance from the MPA released directly to the schools says that no indoor practices will be held “this fall,” and no practices or games will be held in a county that has been designated as “yellow” or “red” for school reopening.
While all competing sports will have general social distancing and mask-wearing requirements, two noteworthy in-game changes come in soccer, where slide tackling within 6-feet of another player is prohibited, and no more than five defensive and five offensive players in the box during corner kicks, excluding the goalie.
The changes are undoubtedly adjustment for the athletes and coaches, but for one football coach, it is about what you do with what you are given.
“We always preach to our kids you only try and control what you can control and we can’t really control what decisions are made, but we can control how we approach it and what we do with the guidance and opportunities we are given,” said Lance Cowan, head coach for Old Town.
And for football, those opportunities come in the form of a potential 7 vs. 7 fall season. The MPA Football Committee is scheduled to meet sometime next week to discuss the possibility of a regional seven-on-seven, non-tackle schedule as well as Iron Man competition for linemen.
“Certainly it’s not how we wanted it to look, but it’s an opportunity to continue to do some football and there will be some competition,” said Sinclair.
While the MPA has made its ruling on which sports will play this fall, it is up to the local school districts to make the final decision on whether their teams take the field.