Just like it was predicted several weeks ago, the country's pandemic has forced the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association to cancel the upcoming winter state tournaments.
Just days leading into last year's hockey and basketball championship games, the MIAA had to cancel those contests because of the coronavirus and named all of the teams co-champions.
This time, ruled last Thursday, the MIAA behind the recommendation from the MIAA Tournament Management Committee, voted 20-0 in favor of cancelling this year's tournaments.
That being said, the a shortened winter season is still planned to run from November 30th to February 21st, as long as the MIAA gets the OK from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, which is supposed to meet and release out information over the next week or two. Once the EEA report is out, the winter sports committee will have five days in which to present its modifications.
Should the winter season happen, the board advised leagues to create schedules that would cut down travel as has been done with sports being contested in the fall.
In Wilmington, Tewksbury and Shawsheen Tech, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls hockey and wrestling are all offered. Wilmington and Tewksbury also offers boys and girls track, while the former has a co-op with North Reading with boys and girls swimming, and the latter offers gymnastics. Shawsheen Tech also offers boys and girls swimming.
Previous MIAA Meetings have suggested that indoor track be moved to the Fall Season-2 which begins at the end of February, while there's major concerns on whether or not wrestling — as well as the other sports — can actually get underway.
There were other items discussed at this same meeting. The board voted 20-0 to extend the Basketball Player Limit Rule. The original plan came from Tewksbury High Athletic Director Ron Drouin, who first offered the idea to the Merrimack Valley Conference before taking it to the MIAA. The proposal is to allow student-athletes to play six quarters in a day between sub-varsity and varsity level basketball, rather than the traditional four.
Finally, according to the Boston Herald, earlier in the meeting, “CPA Marco Seidman gave a financial report which said the MIAA’s assets exceed its liabilities by more than nine times. He also cautioned that the organization should proceed with caution before dipping into rainy day funds in case another pandemic-related shutdown is on the horizon and recommended new sources of revenue be considered.”
Also last Thursday, the MIAA Baseball Committee met. Last year, the National Federation of High School rules were scheduled to be implemented but COVID-19 cancelled the entire season. With no fall and winter tournaments, the transition to the new MaxPreps seeding process for a possible spring state tournament, may be pushed off because of the uncertainty of everything going on now.
The primary rule change is pitch count restrictions, in particular "between a dispute over pitch count numbers in a game prior to the contest in question and reaching the pitch count maximum in a single game.”
The Herald stated that, “the committee decided that a game should proceed if there is a disagreement over a player’s availability to pitch based on pitches accumulated previously, with teams going through an appeals process with their athletic director and the MIAA, similar to whether an ineligible player was used. However, in the rare instance that a coach would continue to use a pitcher after it was clear to both teams that he had already surpassed the pitch count limit for that day, the umpire would have the power to suspend the game, and a forfeit could then be pursued.”