MIAA releases sport-specific modifications for fall athletics

  • Amherst Regional and Northampton boys begin a cross country run Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019 at Amherst Regional High School. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Elise Friedrichs, right, of Frontier Regional, spikes against Mayouri Yath, of Amherst Regional, Monday, Sept. 30, 2019 in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Hadleigh Rogalski, of Hampshire Regional, performs on the balance beam during a meet against Minnechaug and Chicopee, Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019 at Hampshire. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Corryn Moroney, left, of South Hadley, scores against Westfield goalie Lindsey Brown, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019 at South Hadley High School. Looking on are teammates Gabby Moroney, top, and Abbie Sierzego. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Piet Hartman, of Amherst Regional, watches his drive on the fourth hole during a match against South Hadley, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019 at The Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Erik Geertsma, left, of Easthampton, and Greg Kucinski, of Hopkins Academy battle for the ball, Monday, Oct. 21, 2019 at Hopkins Academy. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Courtney Allen, left, of Mohawk, moves the ball against Alexsadie Rivera, of Holyoke, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019 at Holyoke High School. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Sports Editor
Published: 8/28/2020 4:53:42 PM

The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association released its sport-specific guidelines for the fall athletic season on Friday.

MIAA President Jeff Granatino and Executive Director Bill Gaine approved the modifications that were established by the individual sport committees and the MIAA’s COVID-19 Task Force earlier this week.

“It’s exciting that student-athletes and coaches from across the Commonwealth are finally able to prepare for an actual athletic season,” Granatino said in a statement. “The work that the MIAA COVID-19 Task Force and our individual sports committees put forth will allow for these sports to take place in a fashion that adheres to the safety precautions/modifications that have been recommended by the EEA.”

The sport committees and the task force followed guidelines initially set by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the MIAA. The modifications were vetted through the MIAA Sports Medicine Committee, which includes two epidemiologists who worked with both the EEA and DESE.

Soccer, field hockey, girls volleyball, gymnastics, cross country and golf can begin practice on Sept. 18.

Basic pre-workout and pregame screenings must take place for all athletes and coaches. If someone is showing signs of COVID-19 they should follow Department of Public Health guidelines regarding isolation and testing.

Social distancing is recommended as much as possible and masks should be worn by all participants in every sport.

Here are some of the specific game modifications for the individual sports:


■Team benches must be set up to ensure social distancing between players, coaches, trainers, etc. on the sidelines. Teams may have players stretched out far down the sideline. Each team may have no more than three adults in the bench area throughout the contest (coaches, volunteers, statisticians, trainers, videographers — are all included).

■No timeouts.

■All games will be played in four quarters with two, two-minute breaks and one 10-minute halftime.

■Players, coaches, referees and game personnel must wear face coverings during play except when taking a mask break (players must be at least 10 feet apart). Failure to have a face covering securely/properly worn according to these guidelines, will result in an indirect free kick for the opposing team as well as a yellow card for the player in violation.

■If the game official feels that conditions are not safe in the bench area, as it relates to face coverings, they may issue a yellow card to the head coach for failure to enforce the face covering or social distancing rules in the bench area.

■The home team must provide at least eight balls around the field. Players not in a game may retrieve balls with their feet only.

■Balls must be wiped down or sprayed after each quarter.

■An intentional header will result in an indirect free kick for the opposing team.

■Placing hands on an opponent in anyway will result an indirect free kick.

■It is a violation to intentionally make body contact with an opposing team member’s body. This includes shoulder-to-shoulder tackling, backing into them or any other intentional contact. It will result in an indirect free kick for the opposing team.

A player is allowed to make unintentional contact with an opposing team member if the player is attempting to make “foot to ball” contact and the resulting contact with the opposing team member is below the torso, fleeting and minor in nature.

■No slide tackles. Violations will result in a direct kick.

■All players on the field must properly wear face coverings on every restart and maintain six-feet of distance.

■Indirect kicks must be played on the ground. Goal kicks in the air past midfield are not allowed and will result in an indirect restart for the opposing team at midfield.

■No throw-ins. Restarts will be kick-ins. Corner kicks are an indirect kick.

■The use of a dropped ball is suspended. To replace this procedure, an indirect kick will be awarded to the team whom the referees deemed to be in possession at the time of stoppage.

■The use of a traditional defensive “wall” is not allowed on any restart. Players may attempt to impede the path of the ball to the goal by standing in the way but they must be at least 10 yards away from the ball and at least six feet away from other players.

■On penalty kicks, the ball is dead once it hits the goalie or is scored.

■If a player steps in the direction of the referee with intent to complain/argue, that player will be given a yellow card. If the player comes within six feet of an official to complain/argue, a red card will be issued.

Cross country

■Only essential personnel are permitted on the course (i.e. athletes, coaches, medical/trainers, officials).

■Staggered starts in small groups are required. Schools should be separated with three-minute spacing between each wave.

■Runners should not cluster on the course and try to maintain social distancing.

■Schools must develop a non-transmittal way of scoring at the finish line (i.e. FAT Timing, video, multi-colored bibs).

<sbull value="sbull"><text xmlns="urn:schemas-teradp-com:gn4tera"></text></sbull>Athletes can remove face coverings during the race when socially distanced but must do so prior to the race starting and at the start of the race. Athletes should prepare to use a face covering at the conclusion of a race as soon as possible given social distancing needs as well as considering exhaustion/breathing at the conclusion of a race.

Field hockey

■The number of players on the field per team will be seven, plus one goalie.

■No penalty corners. Fouls in the circle would be a 25-yard hit.

■Players must be 5 yards away on free hits.

■No faceoffs, instead use alternate possession.

■No ball girls or ball boys. Four balls must be placed behind each goal and on opposite sideline on cones.

■No stick inspections. Coaches are responsible to verify equipment is legal.

■Officials should use alternative whistles such as electronic whistles or air horns.

■Substitutions will take place at midfield.

Girls volleyball

■Tape will be applied to the floor three feet from the centerline on each side of the net to ensure social distancing between teams.

■Teams will remain on the same side of the court throughout the match.

■No team huddles or any physical contact (high-fives, fist bumps, etc.)

■Balls are to be replaced with a clean ball after every rally. This task is to be completed by an adult.

■To reduce intermittent contact with opponents, front row plays will be restricted from traditionally attacking the ball while the ball is above or in front of the three-foot line.

■At last six game balls should be set apart from other balls.

■Suspend roster requirements, and requirement for written scorer and or libero tracker.

■Substitutions will take place at the attack line and no contact between players during the exchange.


■No use of clubhouses expect for the restrooms.

■No handshakes, fist or elbow bumps.

■Players get free relief for disturbed areas in the bunker. No touching the flagsticks.

■Face coverings must be worn and social distancing must be practiced at all times, except when competing and more than 6-feet apart on the course.

■If social distancing prior to the match is not possible due to space constraints, participants should remain in or near their mode of transportation until it is time to move to the 1st tee.

■Coaches who are wearing gloves will hand out score cards and pencils. Players will not exchange scorecards.

■Tee times should be staggered by at lease 10 minutes.


■Athletes will supply their own water bottles, grips and chalk.

■Locker rooms will be used for the restroom only.

■Equipment should be cleaned/sanitized between warmup and competition. Athletes should be sanitizing hands prior to and after competing on an event.

■If an athlete chooses to wear a face covering during competition, there will be no deduction for improper uniform. If not wearing a mask during competition, once an athlete completes their routine, a face covering should be utilized as soon as possible.

■Non-competing athletes must be in a designated area not near competing athletes and judges that are socially distanced.

■Athletes waiting to compete should do so in a designated waiting area.

According to the MIAA, these modifications will continue to be reviewed as they relate to current regulations surrounding COVID-19 and may be modified if necessary.

Participating schools

Easthampton, Gateway Regional, Hampshire Regional and Smith Vocational have each announced they will participate in fall sports. Schools that are starting remotely are awaiting permission from their school committees. If Frontier Regional has sports, it will compete only against other Franklin County teams.

Mike Moran can be reached at mmoran@gazettenet.com. Follow on Twitter @mikemoranDHG.

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