MPA: Sports Forge Ahead In Fall; Winter To Offer New Challenges
Mike Burnham, the Interscholastic Executive Director of the Maine Principals' Association, and Mike Bisson, the Assistant Executive Director of the MPA, joined The Drive on Wednesday afternoon to discuss what has been a tumultuous fall sports season to date.
Countable games are being played, which is certainly an upgrade from where we were a year ago at this time when soccer and field hockey participated in exhibition seasons, while football was confined to 7-on-7 passing leagues.
Though it has been anything but smooth sailing for those involved in high school sports over the last 2+ months. Handfuls of games have been forced to be postponed or canceled each week due to any number of reasons ranging from positive COVID-19 cases to a shortage of bus drivers and referees.
As the Delta variant rages through the country, Maine has not been immune, with Penobscot County recently serving as one of the hottest spots per capita in the U.S.
Schools like Hermon have seen their football team wait an additional three weeks to play their first game, while the Hawks' soccer teams were put on a two-week hiatus after only a couple of matches due to all athletics getting shuttered by COVID. Old Town just experienced a similar multi-week layoff while Bangor football played their last game with 23 members of the team in quarantine and unable to make the trip to Scarborough.
Very few schools, if any, have gone unaffected this fall season, but the hope is to finish out the schedules in full (or at least as much as possible) and get to a postseason that will be open for all competition.
However, the benefit all fall sports have going for them, apart from volleyball, is that they are outdoor activities. With roughly a month and a half left on the calendar and the winter season quickly approaching, guidelines will need to be reviewed and changes may be in order once the kids move inside for the winter months.
Burnham and Bisson alluded to this fact in their appearance on The Drive earlier this week, saying one or more of these three options could be in play this winter. 1) A vaccination requirement to play winter sports. 2) Regular testing of the athletes. 3) The return of masks during competition, as we saw last winter during the exhibition basketball season.
With rising numbers in the region, the MPA hopes to keep the competitions as "normal" as possible while making sure the health and safety of the kids, coaches, and officials participating remains the top priority.
Hear the rest of our conversation with Mike Burnham and Mike Bisson, below -