Calgary’s high school athletes will have to wait a month before it’s decided if the season will kick off.
The start of the season is being postponed by the Calgary Senior High School Athletic Association until Oct. 1, when the association is scheduled to make a decision about how the season will proceed. The halt on all sports includes organized meetings, conditioning, skill development sessions, tryouts and practices.
“Everything is on hold until on or before Oct. 1. If things go really well, trying to think positively, the decision could come a little bit earlier. But it gives an opportunity, because of all the moving parts, to get students back in classes,” said Pat Harrigan, executive director of CSHSAA.
“We’re aware of the value that extracurriculars have for students. In high school, it’s education first and athletics and extracurriculars second. They’re important, but we have to get schools open as safely as possible.”
The decision to hold off the start of the season was made in consultation with the Calgary Board of Education, the Calgary Catholic School District, Alberta Health Services and the Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association.
The decision doesn’t sit well with Anita Wylie, who has a son in Grade 11 who plays football at Henry Wise Wood High School. She created an online petition asking Education Minister Adriana LaGrange to come out in support of extracurricular activities, including sports.
had 587 virtual signatures as of Wednesday afternoon.
“I’m skeptical this postponement is just delaying the news that there isn’t going to be a fall sports season,” said Wylie, who works as a nurse. She added that football, in particular, already has a short season because it’s played outdoors.
“If you can still have physical education, how can you not have athletics running? They’re essentially not following what AHS says can occur and what we are seeing occur right now in the community with mini-leagues.”
She hopes students will still have the opportunity for recruitment and scholarships to universities if the season gets cancelled or postponed until the spring.
AHS has a
for physical education classes at schools.
, school boards are encouraged to reference the guidance for sport, physical activity and recreation, which states that mini-leagues are allowed to run with a cohort of up to 50 participants, including coaches, players and officials.
Grade 12 student Dallas Stace-Smith is OK with the postponement as long as the football season starts before there’s too much snow on the ground.
“It would be hard if we didn’t get our final year of high school football. It could be my last season playing football so it would be nice to end on a high note,” said the Henry Wise Wood High School student.
He believes players would be dedicated to following the required protocols if it meant they could play.
Matthew Okrainec, who plays football at Western Canada High School, hopes school authorities will consider possible modifications to the season to allow it to start soon. He noted there are community sports leagues running in modified formats.
“Divisions could be split into three teams instead of eight — or two — and they could stay safe,” the Grade 11 student said.
“For some athletes, playing their sport is a key component in their life and it would be very disappointing to lose that.”
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