U Sports, conferences deal with unknown by cancelling events, sports . . . Chiefs sign familiar faces

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Dorothy and I were joined by a special guest, our granddaughter Kara, for a walk on Sunday.

That’s it for the Kidney Walk for another year. The 2020 version was of a virtual variety and it was held on Sunday.

Thanks to all of you who joined Dorothy’s team by supporting her with a donation. At this point, she has raised $3,080.

This was her seventh year of taking part in the Kidney Walk, and people like you have donated $19,686 through her to the BC/Yukon branch of the Kidney Foundation of Canada.

The money raised goes to help people dealing with kidney disease handle the financial costs that come with the fight.

Again, thank you so much for putting so many smiles on Dorothy’s face. Hopefully, we’ll see you in 2021.

In the meantime, please stay safe.


As expected, U Sports and three of its conferences — Canada West, Atlantic University Sport and Ontario University Athletics — cancelled almost all Canadian university athletic activity until at least January.

It is expected that Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec will follow suit.

U Sports, the governing body of university sport in Canada, cancelled national Usportschampionships in men’s and women’s cross-country, women’s rugby, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s field hockey. It also cancelled the Mitchell and Uteck Bowls and the Vanier Cup, the semifinals and championship game for men’s football that has been decided every year since 1965.

It then remained for the conferences to deal with sports at their level, including regular-season play and playoffs. Canada West, along with the Atlantic and Ontario conferences, announced that they are shutting down most sporting activity until at least January.

Canada West will decide on its fall sports of cross-country, golf and swimming by July 15.

Men’s and women’s hockey, men’s and women’s volleyball and men’s and women’s CWbasketball are done until at least January.

Canada West has said that it will decide by Oct. 8 on whether basketball, hockey and volleyball will start up in January. Also to be decided by Oct. 8 is whether men’s and women’s wrestling, men’s and women’s track and field, men’s and women’s curling, and women’s rugby 7s will begin in January.

“While cancellation isn’t the outcome anyone associated with university sport wanted, I’m confident in the fact that this difficult decision is in the best interests of our student-athletes,” U of Victoria athletic director Clint Hamilton, who is Canada West’s president, said in a news release. “Health and safety is at the forefront of everything we do and simply put there was no way to adequately ensure the safety of everyone involved in university sport during competition this fall.”

Canada West’s 17 member schools voted unanimously on this strategy on Friday. The U Sports, Atlantic and Ontario conference’s decisions were made by their boards of directors.

Canada West had struck a COVID-19 Task Force to steer it through these pandemic-riddled times. That task force recommended the cancellation of competition through year’s end. That recommendation preceded the unanimous vote.

“The Task Force undertook significant discussion and research to inform our recommendations with public health considerations, specifically minimizing risk for both individual participants and the general public, at the core of our work,” said Dr. Steve Martin, who is UVic’s varsity sports medicine physician and Canada West’s rep on the U Sports medical committee. “By and large, sport competition provides a high-risk environment for the transmission of COVID-19. While other areas of society continue to mitigate risk through new guidelines, sport provides a challenge in this regard as any risk mitigation would render many sports unrecognizable.”

The Canada West news release also pointed out that “while professional sports leagues continue to explore options for a return to competition, the resources they will have at their disposal to minimize the risk of infection will not be the reality for Canada West members when the transition from training to competition eventually occurs.”

Also from Canada West’s news release: “Student-athletes in sports without U Sports national championships this season will not be charged eligibility and will remain eligible for athletic financial aid (scholarships).”

Meanwhile, the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association has shut down its intercollegiate sports schedule for the fall semester, a move that involves cross-country, golf, rugby, rugby sevens, baseball, soccer and softball. It has 27 member schools.


During a daily briefing on Monday, Adrian Dix, B.C.’s health minister, noted that while things appear headed in the right direction here, the number of positive COVID-19 cases has been increasing in the American states of Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona and Nevada, something he finds concerning.

“I don’t see that as practical,” he said of opening the U.S. border to non-essential travel. “I don’t see as practical either to have Canadians either visiting and then coming back.

“I don’t see it as practical for people visiting from the United States.”

These statements have to be disconcerting to say the least to junior hockey leagues with any cross-border connections.

The WHL, of course, has five teams in the U.S. — four in Washington and one in Oregon — and has a number of American players on team rosters. The BCHL has one U.S. franchise, the Wenatchee Wild, and its rosters are populated with American players.

On Monday, Canada’s federal government announced a loosening on border travelling that will allow families who have been separated to re-unite, with anyone entering Canada having to self-isolate for 14 days.

The most-recent ban on non-essential travel across the border is to reviewed before June 21.


Editor


During the last week of May, The New York Times asked 511 epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists “when they expect to resume 20 activities of daily life, assuming that the pandemic and the public health response to if unfold as they expect.”

Respondents took into consideration their own situation, such as where they live and what the coronavirus impact is in their area.

When asked when they might “see a doctor for non-urgent appointment,” 60 percent said this summer, with 29 percent option for three to 12 months, and 11 percent saying a year or more.

Asked about getting a haircut at a salon or barbershop, 41 percent said this summer, 39 per cent said three to 12 months, and 19 percent said a year or more.

The question about eating at a dine-in restaurant resulted in 16 percent saying this summer, 56 percent saying three to 12 months, and 28 percent saying a year or more.

The biggest number in the survey showed up when they were asked when they might “attend a sporting event, concert or play.” A full 64 percent said it would be one year or more, with three percent saying this summer, and 32 percent saying three to 12 months.

“They mostly agreed that outdoor activities and small groups were safer than being indoors or in a crowd,” the story reads, “and that masks would be necessary for a long time.”

Steve Mooney of the U of Washington told The Times: “This is as much about feelings of social responsibility as about personal infection risk. Large-scale gatherings are a contact tracing nightmare and seem like they should be shut down until we have a really good sense of what’s safe/how to screen people.”

Tammie Nelson of the Marion County Public Health Department said she would considering attending events in the fall. “I would do this IF social distancing was enforced and everyone attending was required to wear a mask,” she said.

The story, with graphics, is right here.


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, returned to the world of the Internet on Monday after a few days of battling modem-related issues.

He came back with an update on a defamation lawsuit that had been filed by former big leaguer Lenny Dykstra against one-time teammate Ron Darling over something the latter had written in a book.

The case was heard in the Supreme Court of the State of New York in New York County, the Hon. Robert D. Kalish presiding.

The curmudgeonly one reports that this was part of the judge’s ruling:

“Based on the papers submitted on this motion, prior to the publication of the book, Dykstra was infamous for being, among other things, racist, misogynist, and anti-gay, as well as a sexual predator, a drug-abuser, a thief, and an embezzler. Further, Dykstra had a reputation — largely due to his autobiography — of being willing to do anything to benefit himself and his team, including using steroids and blackmailing umpires . . . Considering this information, which was presumably known to the average reader of the book, this Court finds that, as a matter of law, the reference in the book has not exposed Dykstra to any further ‘public contempt, ridicule, aversion or disgrace,’ or ‘evil opinion of him in the minds of right-thinking persons,’ or ‘deprivation of friendly intercourse in society.’ ”

For more on this and some good stuff on happenings involving Drew Brees, click right here.

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And here is the curmudgeonly one with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “A Puritan is someone who is desperately afraid that, somewhere, someone might be having a good time.”


Grammarman


With no active COVID-19 infections remaining in the country, New Zealand Rugby has given the all-clear for fans to return to its rugby stadiums. Matches are to resume this weekend and there won’t be any size restrictions placed on crowds for games in Dunedin on Saturday and Auckland on Sunday.



The Spokane Chiefs have signed five members of their front office to contract extensions, SpokaneChiefsthe length of which weren’t revealed. . . . Jim Hammett, the assistant general manager, and goaltending consultants Lucas Gore and Jesse Plewis were re-signed, as were equipment manager Tim Lindblade and education advisor Joe Everson. . . . Hammett, who runs the club’s scouting department, is entering his second year with the Chiefs, as are Gore and Plewis. . . . Lindblade is preparing for his eighth season in Spokane, while Everson has been with the Chiefs, in one capacity or another, for 30 years. He has been the education advisor for the past 12 seasons.


Flowers

Scattershooting on a Sunday while waiting for the warmth of summer to arrive . . .

The Canadian sporting world is going to take a huge hit on Monday when U Sports and three conferences — Canada West, Atlantic University Sport and Ontario University Athletics — are expected to announce first-term cancellations of most sports, including national championships, because of the pandemic caused by COVID-19.

Taking Note has been told that the announcement will mean the cancellation of sports at the U Sports level, including football, men’s and women’s hockey, men’s and women’s basketball, and men’s and women’s volleyball, at least through the end of 2020.

U Sports held its 43rd annual meeting — this one on a virtual basis — on Wednesday and Thursday.

On May 13, Canada West, with 17 members, had announced that it was preparing for an eventual return to play that would feature fewer games and less travel due to budgetary concerns. That return to play was based on health officials in the four western provinces providing the OK.

Obviously, U Sports and its conferences haven’t seen enough encouraging signs that would help them feel comfortable with running fall programs. They mustn’t feel that they will be able to provide their student-athletes with safe places in which to practise and play.

Yes, there are professional leagues that have returned to play and others that appear to be getting closer, but the financial resources available to those leagues, for things like regular testing, aren’t available for Canadian university athletic departments.

It will be interesting to see how various other organizations and leagues who are looking at trying to get seasons started in the fall will react to the U Sports news. Especially if U Sports cites the lack of a coronavirus vaccine as a reason for the decision made by it and its conferences.


On Thursday, Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan’s chief medical officer, said that he doesn’t expect his province to open up to large gatherings until June 2021.

Yes, a lot can change between now and then, but that’s a year from now and that’s a chilling thought. 

At the moment, indoor gatherings in Saskatchewan are limited to 10 people, although that is scheduled to increase to 15 on Monday — and to 30 outdoors.

Saskatchewan is home to five WHL franchises and 12 teams in the junior A SJHL.



BamaInsider reported Thursday that five members of the U of Alabama Crimson Tide football team have tested positive for coronavirus. Players returned to campus earlier in the week. . . . As many as 50 players practised on their own on Wednesday and may end up in quarantine. . . . Alabama reported 746 new cases on Thursday, it’s highest single-day number. . . . Football players are returning to campuses planning on resuming activities on Monday. . . . The Oklahoma State Cowboys have had three players test positive, so freshmen players were told not to report. Senior linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga tested positive after attending a protest rally in Tulsa last weekend. One of college football’s top linebackers, he was born in Nigeria, moved to Houston with his family in 2003 and then to Calgary in 2011. . . Iowa State reported that four student-athletes from different sports have been quarantined as they await test results.



I took a couple of days away, just to coast and do some reading. I returned to find that Agent Orange had said: “Hopefully George (Floyd) is looking down right now and saying this a great thing that’s happening for our country,” Trump said. “There’s a great day for him. It’s a great day for everybody.” . . . Agent Orange was attempting to play up U.S. unemployment numbers that had shown some improvement — they later proved to be erroneous — but still were the worst since the end of the Second World War. . . . Unfortunately, George Floyd wasn’t available to comment.


Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times found this note on the Facebook page of Everett’s KRKO Radio: “I miss baseball so much that I made hot dogs for my family today and charged them $10 per hot dog.”

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Perry, again: “Michael Jordan, after becoming president of the Wizards, traded Laron Profit in retaliation for Profit trash-talking Jordan in practice during their days as Washington teammates. In a related story, rumor has it that Jordan’s TV set still has rabbit ears.”



A couple of notes from Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle relating to the NBA’s return:

Two weeks ago, Houston’s James Harden told CNBC he wanted to return “when the pandemic has calmed all the way to a minimum.” Good luck with that, as hot spots remain an issue and are completely unpredictable — in this country and around the world. In recent days, positive tests were revealed for three Oklahoma State football players, two Yomiuri Giants in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league, and 16 players on a single Brazilian soccer team (Vasco da Gama, a storied franchise in Rio de Janeiro).

Jenkins also wrote this:

Why Orlando, and specifically Disney World? It offers a wide variety of hotels (just one will be selected), three arenas that reportedly can be configured into 20 basketball courts, and a convenient partnership; Disney owns ESPN, a crucial component of the NBA’s national-television package. There are many advantages, but consider that Florida hasn’t set the best example of how to manage a pandemic. On Wednesday, the Florida Department of Health announced 1,317 new cases of the coronavirus, the state’s largest surge in six weeks.



JUST NOTES: If you’re wondering about that $20 bill, it’s still in my money clip. It now has been there for more than three months. . . . Saw the person in front of me in the DQ drive-thru paying with cash on Saturday and wondered what I was witnessing. . . . Just wondering, but did actor Lee Van Cleef ever get to play a good guy? . . . ICYMI, The Athletic laid off 46 people this week, including Ken Wiebe, a good guy who covered the Winnipeg Jets. . . . Boris Protsenko, who played three seasons (1995-98) with the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen, has spent 13 seasons as an amateur scout with the NHL’s Dallas Stars. His contract is about up and won’t be renewed due to the Stars’ financial concerns in these pandemic times. From Kiev, Ukraine, Protsenko has worked for the Stars out of Calgary.


Former NHLer Igor Larionov is the new head coach of Russia’s national junior hockey team. He takes over from Valeri Bragin, who has been promoted and now is the head coach of the men’s national team. . . . Bragin coached Russia’s national junior team for eight years. His teams won seven medals during that time, including gold in 2011. . . . With the men’s team, he replaces Alexei Kudashov, who lasted just one season. . . . Larionov, 59, won four world championships, two Olympic golds and three Stanley Cups as a player. He was an assistant to Bragin at the 2020 World Junior Championship. . . . The 2021 WJC is scheduled to be held in Edmonton and Red Deer, from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5.


With our annual Kidney Walk having been cancelled, my wife, Dorothy, is raising funds in support of a ‘virtual’ walk that is scheduled for today. All money raised goes to help folks who are dealing with kidney disease. . . . This is your last chance to join Dorothy’s team and put a smile on her face by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.


Baseball’s 12-team West Coast League has cancelled its 2020 season with pandemic-related safety guidelines and travel restrictions still in place in Washington and Oregon. Earlier, five of the teams, including the Kelowna Falcons and Victoria HarbourCats, had cancelled their seasons. . . . Two of the teams, the Portland Pickles and Wenatchee AppleSox, are planning to play some games  this season as independents. . . . The WCL is a wood-bat collegiate league. It already has set the opening date for its 2021 season as June 4 and will be welcoming a new franchise in Nanaimo.


The NBA’s return-to-play plan, in brief: The season resumes on July 31. The last possible day of playoff action would be Oct. 21. Training camps for the 2020-21 season would open on Nov. 10. The new season would begin on Dec. 1.