Like so many familiar events and activities, the Massachusetts Senior Games were forced to cancel all their competitions in 2020 by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Will the same fate befall the annual event – which draws scores of athletes from 40 years of age through those in their 80s to venues across the state – again in 2021?
To get an update on the ongoing status of the Games – both statewide and nationally – Prime reached out to Davis Cox, chair of the Board of Directors for the Massachusetts Senior Games.
Here’s what he knows so far about the competitions planned for elder athletes in 2021:
Like so many annual events, the Massachusetts Senior Games were cancelled for 2020. What is the outlook for hosting the Games in 2021?
“We are moving ahead planning events! As of right now, our first event of 2021 is slated for March 3 at Mt. Wachusett Ski Area in Princeton, MA. – Alpine Skiing - unless someone pulls the plug on it. People are skiing there now, and if the event goes forward as planned we will have to adhere to all the state’s COVID-19 regulations for the competition. In past years, this event drew up to 90 athletes in all age groups. We are hopeful this first event of the year will take place.
“As for the rest of the Mass. Senior Games, our athletes are chomping at the bit and we are planning to have a full complement of games, we just don’t know exactly when that will be possible this year. Right now we’re looking toward late summer, possibly August. In a regular year the Mass. Senior Games hosts about 30 different events in 20 locations across the state, including swimming, basketball, track & field, racquet ball and tennis at our flagship location, Springfield College. We’re also looking forward to adding two new events to the state Games in 2021 - soccer and beach volleyball. However, for the 2021 Games, once again everything depends on the COVID-19 situation, the availability of our venues, and the government regulations.”
According to the Senior Games calendar, 2021 was also slated to be a National Senior Games competition year. What is the status of that event?
“The 2021 National Senior Games were originally scheduled for this coming November in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Those games have been rescheduled and will now take place in May of 2022.
“Because of COVID-19, the last year that the Massachusetts Senior Games qualified athletes for a National Games competition, was in 2018; we hosted 1,200 competitors at our various venues that year. About 400 qualified for the Nationals at Albuquerque, which hosted nearly 14,000 athletes from all over the United States and Canada.
Given the effects of COVID-19 on so many non-profits, how is the Mass. Senior Games coping with the loss of funds – and possibly venues – caused by the pandemic?
“We are always in need of money, regardless of the year, and are actively looking for donations right now to keep the Games going. There is a
donation button on our website, https://maseniorgames.org/ for those who wish to make a contribution. Potential major sponsors should contact one of our board members.
“We are hopeful that our presenting sponsor, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts continues to support us generously, as they have done so since 1998. Our major host sponsor, Springfield College, has provided us their facilities since our incorporation in 1991, and hopefully can do so this year.
“One of our big concerns is the availability of venues, such as Springfield College, later this year. If, for instance, the college decides not to allow outsiders on its campus because of ongoing COVID-19 concerns, it will cost the Games about $15,000 to $25,000, depending on location, to replace that venue with another site, or sites for the four - and sometimes six – events that take place there. We could perhaps host the swimming at a local YMCA, and find a high school track for the track and field events, but that would still leave the basketball and tennis events usually hosted in Springfield without venues in the area. And this may not be the only venue where we have concerns, depending on the status of the pandemic at Games time.
Editor’s Note: Athletes interested in keeping abreast of the status of the Massachusetts Senior Games should regularly check their website, https://maseniorgames.org/ for regular updates and to sign up for the Games newsletter.