OFSAA cancels spring championships and festivals
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to batter high school sports.
On Feb. 5, the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations announced the cancellation of spring championships and festivals.
“OFSAA supports the health and safety measures currently instituted by public health and the Government of Ontario,” OFSAA president Nick Rowe wrote. “Despite this disappointing news, we wish to reiterate our continued support for sports and activity for the benefit of students’ physical and mental well-being. School sports play a vital role in education and in the lives of students.”
It is the second straight year that the pandemic has resulted in the cancellation of spring championships and festivals.
“We know that the coming months present uncertainty, but we eagerly look forward to the time when athletes and coaches can safely return to competition in our provincial championships and festivals,” Rowe wrote. “The Return To Sports Working Group will continue to meet and assess the viability of OFSAA events as the situation evolves. As vaccines become more widely distributed, we are hopeful for a return of OFSAA events as soon as possible. In the meantime, we have introduced new programs such as virtual challenges, the OFSAA Café and a newly-announced Student Forum.”
Chris McLean, the Niagara Catholic District School Board’s athletic convenor, was saddened by the news.
“I feel so terrible for the circumstances and life changes for everyone and I really feel for the kids not having that sense of connectiveness to other students and their school community,” he said. “That whole sport environment and working together gives them something to look forward to.”
McLean was expecting the bad news but is hopeful for some good news.
“Hopefully sometime in the spring, we might be able to get some form of sports up and running at the local level to get the kids active,” he said. “Safety is obviously the No. 1 issue, and if public health approves it we would definitely look to get the kids moving in some way.”
Rina Rode, the sports co-ordinator for the Niagara Region High School Athletic Association, was also expecting OFSAA to cancel spring championships and festivals for soccer, rugby, baseball, field lacrosse, badminton, tennis, track and field and ultimate (Frisbee).
“When you look at what is happening in the province, there wasn’t going to be a safe way to reopen,” she said. “There are no clubs sports going on either.”
Like McLean, Rode is upset by the news.
“I think we are going to feel it even more once we get going again because we really won’t know the ramifications of any of this for a long time,” she said. “A lot of kids have missed an opportunity which is so unfortunate.”
Like the NCAA, the NRHSAA will run sports at a local level in the spring if allowed.
“That is definitely a possibility but we are going to have to go along with public health and see what happens with the numbers,” Rode said. “If there is an opportunity, I am sure we are going to do it.”
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