Opinion: PACWEST cancelling the season was the right call

With the increased in COVID-19 cases the decision to stop all athletic competitions was a smart one

Ricky Fong and Greg Croson playing basketball at Kitsilano beach , Kitsilano, British Columbia, November, 3, 2020. (Catherine Mwitta/Photo)
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By Catherine Mwitta

Pacific Western Athletic Association has decided to cancel the league’s fall season due to COVID-19, an admirable decision amidst the rising COVID-19 cases in B.C. 

This June, PACWEST league officials announced the cancellation of the men’s and women’s sports fall season, such as soccer, basketball and golf. Officials were hoping competition could resume in 2021 but nothing has been fully decided yet. 

At the time, PACWEST President Jake McCallum said the organization looked at a number of different scenarios for fall competition, keeping in mind the health and safety of its student-athletes, coaches and officials.

Ultimately the decision came down to our guiding principle of keeping everyone safe,” stated McCallum, who is also the director of athletics and intramurals at Langara College.

League officials chose to prioritize student athletes’ health and their education. The action showed foresight in regards to the inevitable increase of COVID-19 cases in B.C this winter. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, competition between teams in the same local geographic area carries one of the highest risks for COVID-19 spread, only behind travelling to compete against teams in different geographic areas.

The future of competition still unclear

Just Nov. 7, the B.C. government put into place further COVID-19 restrictions due to the rapid increase of new cases.

B.C. Centre of Disease Control and viaSport, a non-profit organization which creates mandates and opportunities in the province, published safety guidelines on sports late September.

ViaSport stated in their Phase 2 and 3 guidelines for B.C., that organizations were allowed to have non-contact activities only. Additionally, organizations were restricted to groups of 50 or less at events while being prohibited from cross-regional, inter-provincial or cross-country travel, and sharing of equipment. 

While these guidelines are crucial, they are ever-changing and offer little clarity about what the future of organized sports will look like. 

McCallum has said it is impossible to know what competition might look like, including what precautions will be needed.

“We haven’t had anyone who said the decision was the wrong one, and really been upset,” he has said. “And because again, it’s the world climate that we’re living in, safety has to come first.”

With worldwide uncertainty of how to control COVID-19 and the possible outcome of the pandemic, PACWEST’s decision to postpone the season is best for students, coaches and everyone involved. 

Sporting organizations need to take stock of PACWEST’s courageous stance.

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