OUA working hard towards 2021-2022 return to play
Ontario University Athletics (OUA) continues to remain laser focused on a return to competition in the fall of this year.
The newly created OUA Recovery Plan has been implemented to “guide the conference and its 20 member institutions towards a return to sport.”
Given the pandemic, it has nearly been a full year since the last OUA sports game was played. With optimism surrounding the vaccine as well as Laurier’s target for an in-person fall semester, things seem to be heading on the right track, as the league is eager to resume competition.
Since the sudden halt in play last season, the OUA have always realized the importance and need to return to sports competition in 2021.
Laurier men’s basketball coach Justin Serresse said, “One year out of sight is okay; two years would start to become troublesome.” Speaking about the need for student-athletes to get back in the gym, working on their talent and competing, in order to lead them down the right path.
Throughout the entirety of the pandemic the OUA has been in contact with provincial health experts, their board of directors and each member university across the province in order to prioritize the health of its members and safely return to play.
As we have seen in various other sports leagues, the OUA will need to make several adjustments in order to properly protect the thousands of staff, administrators, coaches and players involved in the production of OUA competition.
Some of the adjustments mentioned by the league include modifications to their schedule, whether that be a reduction of games played or a schedule that emphasizes regional competition.
An adjustment we have seen made in nearly every professional league across North America in order to reduce the amount of travel. The league has also mentioned possible changes to starts dates of training camp and a limit on exhibition games played.
The other decision the league must make will involve the number of fans allowed at games. The league has been quiet about attendance regulations as they still develop their plan; however, Laurier director of communications Jamie Howieson has mentioned the likelihood of no fans being allowed at university games.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty around what sport will look like when it returns. We have seen, in Canada, basically no fans. So, we are working under the assumption that could be the case in the future,” he said.
The OUA will continue to collaborate with their members to ensure an eventual safe return to play. Although there will be many challenges ahead, the league has mentioned this spring as a target date to have final approval from their board on scheduling plans.
More updates to follow.