Imagine Everett Veterans Memorial Stadium empty on a Friday night in the fall – no touchdowns, no cheerleaders, no marching band, no hard-nosed tackles, and no journeys to a Super Bowl title at Gillette Stadium in early December.
But there is no imagination needed because it is reality.
Football and all fall sports are cancelled this fall according to Athletic Director Tammy Turner, but a silver lining is that there is a move afoot for all Greater Boston League (GBL) teams to join together and move all of their fall seasons to February so they can have a GBL Championship. The state ruled last week there are no playoffs this year or any state titles in any sports.
“If you are a community in the red (high-risk for COVID-19) and in Everett we are in the red, you’ll be moved to the floating season, which starts on Feb. 22,” Turner told the School Committee Monday. “We are a district that is in the red and so we don’t have a choice. All fall sports will be moved to Feb. 22. However, if we are able to move out of the red, our fall coaches and athletes can start conditioning and doing drills….As soon as Everett is out of the red, we can start conditioning and practicing, but we cannot do any competition in the fall.”
So deep is the gridiron culture embedded in the city that it will require some reinventing of the character of the community come this fall. That is also true of other sports to an extent, like soccer for boys and girls, as well as cheerleading and other fall sports.
The plan was approved by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletics Association (MIAA) last week, and it was based on the guidance of Gov. Charlie Baker and the state re-opening plan.
But there is some good news for the idea of a late winter/early spring season, and that comes from partner in the GBL. So far, Revere and Everett are the only communities in the red right now, but Medford is wary that it might be named in the red soon due to an outbreak.
With that in mind, the remaining GBL teams have pledged loyalty to the conference and will likely forego their fall seasons to play in the spring with the red communities.
“Revere and Everett are in the red right now, and so all the GBL is sticking together and going to February so we can have GBL championships in February,” said Turner. “They’re all moving with us to Feb. 22 and joining in a united front.”
Two exceptions are golf and cross country. Since it would be likely impossible to play golf or run cross country in February and March, if Revere and Everett can get out of the red by Oct. 1, the conference will look at having short seasons for those sports this fall.
Other sports seasons will also be affected by this too.
The winter season for basketball and indoor sports will go from Nov. 30 to Feb. 21. The new floating fall season will go from Feb. 22 to April 25. Then spring season will take place from April 26 to July 3.
Since there are no state titles or championships being held this year – also meaning no playoffs – at this time, the GBL will host very special conference championship events, Turner said.
“We’re told there will be no state championships for any season – fall, winter or spring,” she said.
Also, to help the mental well-being of student-athletes, the MIAA has put on hold the rule that does not allow coaches to work with student-athletes outside of a season – known as Rule 40. “That rule has been lifted for now,” said Turner. “They understand coaches have a unique relationship with the kids and depression is very high with student-athletes right now