Northampton lifts sports ban, clearing way for Blue Devils football

  • About a dozen Northampton High School athletes hold a rally outside Northampton City Hall on Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, in support of allowing the Blue Devils football team to compete in the Fall II season in March.

Staff Writer
Published: 2/28/2021 5:41:12 PM

The city of Northampton will lift its ban on high risk sports competition Monday, health director Merridith O’Leary announced Sunday.

That clears the way for Northampton High School’s football and basketball teams to compete during the MIAA’s Fall II season, which begins Monday in Western Massachusetts. The Blue Devils will also sponsor indoor track and field as well as swimming and diving.

“I’m proud that Northampton has done such a great job preventing the spread of COVID-19 that the Board feels comfortable easing restrictions on sports,” O’Leary said in the release. “With the number of new cases in steady decline in our area, I’m excited to root on Northampton teams and to watch city children enjoy the physical and mental benefits of organized athletics.”

The order to restrict sports was issued Nov. 13. New COVID-19 cases in Northampton have declined steadily since reaching a peak Jan. 13.

Sports and recreational activities must now follow rules set forth by Governor Charlie Baker and remaining Northampton Health Department requirements. The MIAA also has its own protocols and modifications for sports to be played safely that include spacing, masks and rule changes.

Northampton is one of the last communities to approve high school football in Western Massachusetts. Blue Devils players picketed City Hall on Feb. 22 to protest the lack of action.

“After it happened, it got a good amount of publicity, and it caused many other people in the community to become knowledgeable that there weren’t sports playing, and they spoke up about it,” said Hopkins Academy senior Braeden Tudryn, who plays football for Northampton. “I was excited. A lot of kids in Northampton really wanted to play each of their sports and I’m happy for all of them. It’s good for everybody. Everybody’s going to be safe, and it’s gonna be a good season.”

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