Sports COVID-19 update
Day X without sports…
Brian Palaschuk & Tyler Meadows, Sports Writer and Sports Editor
COVID-19 has been affecting sports around the world and Saskatchewan is no exception. Despite only having two presumptive confirmed cases in the province as of Mar. 13, compared to 142 in Ontario and numbers stretching into thousands south of the border, Saskatchewan sporting organizations are following the guidelines of provincial health authorities and are following a wise strategy, “proactivity is better than reactivity” with unprecedented cancellations across the province.
All professional and semi-professional sporting teams in the province have suspended their seasons, including all WHL teams and the Saskatchewan Rush of the NLL. Both leagues are suspended indefinitely, with potential resumptions in play coming as the overall pandemic situation evolves in Canada. It is worth noting that these pauses came following the precedent set by the NBA on Mar. 12, so the resumption of play will likely also follow the major leagues at the discretion of health authorities.
Despite not yet receiving an official notice from the provincial health authority, many developmental organizations have also made cancellations and training restrictions. Swim Sask., Rugby Sask., Gymnastics Sask., Hockey Sask., and Football Sask. have made cancellations of official meetings and competitions. Many of these organizations have also made the recommendation for practice cancellations. However, in most cases, until specified by the provincial health authority, practice cancellations are at the discretion of individual teams. The early participation of sporting organizations at all levels is encouraging the push to control the spread of COVID-19.
Sporting activities have also been suspended at the university level. This began with U Sports, the governing body for Canadian inter-university sport canceling the volleyball and hockey national championships on Mar. 12. They did allow curling to play out their national championship. Following these decisions, the University of Regina responded in kind. On Mar. 13, athletic director Lisa Robertson communicated that U of R Athletics will be cancelling the end-of-season awards, and hall of fame night. Furthermore, all team practices, travel, conferences, and recruiting activities are suspended until April 30.
On Mar.15, the Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies also ceased all programming. This includes the Dr. Paul Schwann Centre, all gymnasiums, the fitness centre and the swimming pool. These closures will be in effect Mar. 16 and are until further notice.
As of March 16, the City of Regina is also closing all public facilities. This includes the Lawson Aquatic Centre as well as public gymnasiums. This is a further step to limit congregation of large groups related to athletic participation in the province.
What has afflicted us at the local level has both been informed by \ the national and International level. As of now (Monday afternoon), all major sporting leagues have suspended play and most operations. The NFL continues on with free agency and trades (Deandre Hopkins to Arizona, no clue what Houston was thinking!).
The US’ Center for Disease Control has advised that gatherings of 50 or more people should cease for the next eight weeks. Delays to the MLB season have been announced, while it is likely there will be a delay the NFL season as well. The MLB season will be delayed for at least eight weeks as teams will also need to have a second spring training to gear up for what will likely be a shortened MLB season as well. Meanwhile, the NHL and NBA have suspended their seasons for at least the next two months. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in an interview with Sirius XM Radio that the NHL does not want to be hasty in canceling the season.
“It depends on when you think you need to finish [the season] by, when it is you think you can start [the season] with certainty. I’ve had some people say you should just cancel, I don’t see any reason to do that because we may find out in 60 days we can play”.
There are multiple scenarios that could play out which include the playing out the rest of the season and playoffs just at a delayed time, jumping right into postseason play with teams who were in playoff position prior to the stoppage being included, or there could be an abbreviated regular season full playoffs or modified playoffs.
Typically, patience and gathering information is valuable when making major assessments like shutting down a season unexpectedly. Unless of course you are the grand pappy of them all, the NFL.
The NFL keeps chugging along as if business is usual, which is both awesome and horrible. It gives us fodder to gripe about, but ruthless NFL officials refuse to have their bottom line drop any more than it already has or will. Free agency has opened and the draft will continue as scheduled, but it will be closed to the public. The closure to the public will help Roger Goodell as he won’t have to talk over all the booing, but it seems that the draft will still be televised. If you are a sports fan you will be hard pressed to either play or watch sports for the next few weeks and who knows how much longer.
During this time of unprecedented health crisis in Canada it is important to pay close attention to all advisories published by the provincial health authority. In order to flatten the curve, the cooperation of all society is important. There are times when public health supersedes athletics, and this is one of them; stay safe, stay healthy and if possible, stay at home.