Travis Nguyen/Photo Editor
How the newly imposed restrictions have negatively affected university athletes.
As athletes begin to return after three weeks off for the winter break, they will quickly have to adjust, as the Ontario University Athletics have seen major changes. As of Dec. 17, the OUA has halted all university sports amid the Omicron variant resurgence.
After the tightened restrictions were imposed on Jan. 3 by the Ford Government, all amateur leagues during this lockdown stage must halt all activities until Jan. 27. Additionally, the OUA has been labelled an amateur league, rather than an elite sports league, which sparked a large wave of reactions from the association and its athletes.
“The notion that the hard-working student-athletes who have long strived toward the goal of competing at the post-secondary level and proudly representing one of the OUA’s 20 member institutions in the sport they love aren’t considered elite by the Government of Ontario is a disservice to the dedication, commitment and talent that they continue to show on a day-to-day basis,” explained the OUA in their recent statement regarding the decision.
The OUA strongly stands behind their statement, labelling themselves as elite, and explaining this amatuer label does not do them justice. The sports association has not been the only one that voiced their concerns. McMaster students who may be following any of the Marauders athletes are extremely likely to have seen several postings regarding the decision, as athletes from all sports have united to make their message loud and clear.
So far there has been no word on whether a formal appeal will be placed by the sports league to change the type of league that they’re being labelled as. Additionally, this “amateur league” pause is scheduled to last until at least Jan. 27, which currently interferes with hockey, basketball and volleyball schedules that were meant to take place this month.
Although the main focus of the lockdowns is currently on the OUA league, there are other concerns that individuals will have moving forwards and the effects that they could have on all parties involved.
What does this mean for all the athletes that were scheduled to have their games? What does this mean for all athletes in general? Will their training and season preparation routines change due to the restrictions?
While none of those questions have a concrete answer that could be provided, it is clear that it will not be easy to prepare for games as it was at the beginning of the school year, when the province was not under any tight restrictions due to COVID-19. The road ahead features a lot of uncertainty.
With the province backtracking to step 2 of the lockdown measures, amenities such as gyms and pools are closing effective Jan. 5. Although the restrictions are meant to last only three weeks to combat the rise in cases of COVID-19, it is uncertain whether this period will be extended beyond that.
For athletes around Ontario, the closure of their main preparatory amenities will most definitely hinder their performances and readiness for the new season in some way. For indoor sports such as volleyball and basketball, whose season is still in progress, the lockdowns could also affect the actual game results for the rest of the season.
Currently the mens and womens basketball teams have had four of their games postponed in the January period, against Waterloo Warriors and Windsor Lancers.
As for the mens and womens volleyball team, two of their games have been postponed so far against Windsor Lancers and Brock Badgers. Not only have two of these games been postponed, but the men’s team had their highly anticipated exhibition game against the Long Beach State University cancelled as well.
With so much uncertainty for university athletes heading into Ontario’s third lockdown, only time will tell what will happen to university sports from February onwards.