A recent ruling from the Ministry of Education restricting school tournaments has BC School Sports frustrated but hopeful students will be allowed to participate in tournaments soon.
As of Feb. 1, child and youth club sports are allowed to resume tournment play. Fans are also allowed to watch indoor sports, unlike school-based games.
Athletes representing either a primary or secondary school are still not allowed to participate in their respective sports tournaments after intervention from the Ministry of Education prevented the revised health provincial orders from applying to schools.
It’s a decision that had BC School Sports scratching their heads.
“The Ministry of Education has their own guidelines that the schools are working under,” said Jordan Abney, the executive director of BC School Sports who spoke with the Penticton Western News. “There’s some frustration there certainly.”
Abney has been meeting with the ministry regularly since it was decided school sports tournaments were still not permitted.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the situation remains on a week-to-week basis, according to the executive director.
“We’ve communicated with them why we think it’s important this [ruling] changes,” he said. “We’re working with the ministry to see what comes in the next steps. We’re hoping it changes as early as Friday (Feb.4).”
Late winter and into the spring is a significant period for school sports tournaments, Abney explained.
“At the end of every season of play, there’s a provincial championship and we’re getting down to that point. Qualification for tournaments is starting to need to happen in the next week or two. So if there’s any further delay it starts to put a real crunch on those events.”
Along with his recent conversations with the Ministry of Education, Abney has also been in regular contact with parents who are concerned about the status of school sports in B.C.
“The response to this decision has been very loud and clear,” he stated. “What it’s done is demonstrate the significance and importance of high school sports in this province and how important they are to our schools and communities.
“That messaging has come through loud and clear in the last week from parents.”
While individual games are permitted to happen, tournaments are not. It’s a decision that affects over 70,000 students across 19 different sports, according to BC School Sports’ executive director.
Still, the governing body of school sports is hopeful the recent decision will be reversed.
“We’ll likely have some more clarity from the ministry on Friday (Feb. 4),” Abney said. “There’s been good dialogue about the different factors and pieces that go into making a decision like this.
“I wouldn’t say I’m optimistic but I’m hopeful.”