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High School Sports: When will the benefits outweigh the risks?

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With omicron dominating the latest wave of the coronavirus and high school sports on another mandatory pause, perhaps now would be a good time to recall what opportunities to participate have been lost since lockdown measures were first introduced in the spring of 2020.

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I’ll pick it up where news of local implications first became very real in March of that year:

– Girls and boys hockey: OFSAA 2020, the entire 2020-21 season, Dec. 13 to present.

– Boys and girls curling: OFSAA 2020, the entire 2020-21 season, Jan. 3 to present.

– Wrestling: OFSAA 2020, the entire 2020-21 season, 2021-22 season up to now (which will include OFSAA 2022, now cancelled).

– Swimming: OFSAA 2020, the entire 2020-21 season, 2021-22 season up to now (which will include OFSAA 2022, now cancelled).

– Girls gymnastics: the entire 2020 season, the entire 2021 season.

– Track and field, badminton, boys and girls slo-pitch, boys and girls soccer, tennis: the entire 2020 season, the entire 2021 season.

– Golf: select schools elected not to participate in the 2020 and 2021 events.

– Cross-country: fewer events hosted in 2020.

– Boys baseball: reduced number of teams in 2020.

– Boys football: the entire 2020 season.

– Girls flag football: a cohorted format to a reduced number of participating schools was offered in 2020.

– Boys volleyball: a cohorted format to a reduced number of participating schools was offered in 2020, NOSSA/OFSAA schedule formats were abbreviated in 2021.

– Girls basketball: the entire 2020 season, NOSSA/OFSAA schedule formats were abbreviated in 2021.

– Alpine ski/snowboard: the entire 2021 season.

– Nordic ski: one preliminary meet was offered in late February of 2021 but there was no SDSSAA, NOSSA or OFSAA hosted.

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– Boys basketball: the entire 2020-21 season, Jan. 3 to present.

– Girls volleyball: the entire 2020-21 season, Jan. 3 to present.

Certainly, this list is a work in progress, so why bring this up now?

Well, with a return to competition date as yet unknown, it’s important to ensure decision-makers apply appropriate weight to lost opportunities to participate, especially when one considers they are lost forever, and only exist for the four years most students attend high school.

At some point the benefits associated with participation have to outweigh the risks and all winter sport coaches and student-athletes are surely hoping we are at that point now or at least very, very soon.

Dave Makela is the athletic administrator for the Sudbury District Secondary Schools Athletic Association. His column runs weekly during the high school sports season.

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Travis Burnett

A pioneer in the flag football community, Travis helped co-found the Flag Football World Championship Tour, FlagSpin and USA Flag. Featuring 15+ years of content creation for the sport of flag football, creating and managing the largest flag football tournaments on the planet, coaching experience at the youth and adult level as well as an active player with National and World Championship level experience.

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