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ACAC happens upon a workable provincial remedy to a world-wide conundrum


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Hints, rumours and pure nonsense are being shuffled like an endless deck of cards as sports officials keep looking for a wild card that would help to clarify the road back to what once was considered a normal – or at least near-normal – state of affairs.

The same is true in the real world, of course, but this space sees more reason every day to puzzle over the wisdom of trying to save all these schedules. At this moment, painful or not, it seems that the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference has happened upon a workable provincial remedy to a world-wide conundrum.

Earlier this week, the University of Alberta decision to wipe out at least six major sports resulted in emotional responses that reached wall to wall for sports. Now, the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference takes another logical step by announcing a plan to conduct events almost solely in April, May and June.

Unaffected, for example, are soccer and the other events normally scheduled in the opening semester: “Their schedules (in a normal year) would be totally finished by then,” said executive director Mark Kosak.

It is considered possible that “between 12 and 16 games” of volleyball, basketball, perhaps even men’s and women’s hockey, could be played during that period. “Other tournament-style sports like curling and golf could be accommodated at the same time.” One essential commitment is to avoid conflicts between athletics and the important job of focusing on exams and other year-end functions.

Kosak confirmed that high-level school and conference officials have spoken in favour of a decision like this one.

“They respected that it would be our (athletic) decision, but it was clear that nobody wants an outbreak of any type on campus. This did not make the decision any easier. “The last thing we want to do is make it harder for our student-athletes,” he repeated. “Their disappointment and frustration has been heard.”

Certainly, some ACAC athletes will be unable to compete during the latest stage of their school year. Many must be committed to jobs away from school at that time. “We understand. Our athletes don’t want disruptions like this; neither do we.”

One other major provision, recognizing cost factors and other elements, has been introduced so institutions are free to opt out of the existing plans for a year. “The option was provided to all of our members and one school – the Camrose campus of the University of Alberta – has already accepted that option,” Kosak said.

This sort of delay might be a separate long-term benefit for the Augustana Vikings. Alumni members confirmed last month that several had been working extremely hard for enough financial and community support to delay a probable decision to wipe out men’s hockey despite the storied history of the Vikings and the once-renowned Viking Cup international tournament.

Kosak, ever the optimist, spent a few moments on an overview of these difficult times in post-secondary sports administration. He found a tiny benefit: “It is not easy to seek and find decisions like this, but it’s certainly a challenge . . .  all these variables and unknowns to deal with.”

And what is sport, after all, but a challenge?

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Hundreds gather to support Alberta church shut down for ignoring COVID-19 orders

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SPRUCE GROVE, Alta. — Hundreds of people are gathered outside an Alberta church charged with refusing to follow COVID-19 health rules.

On the first Sunday since GraceLife Church was shut down and fenced off by Alberta Health Services, an estimated 500 people gathered outside to oppose COVID-19 regulations and show support.

GraceLife Church and its pastor, James Coates, are charged under the Public Health Act for holding services that break health restrictions related to capacity, physical distancing and masking.

Alberta’s health agency said in a statement when it shut down the church on Wednesday that the church will remain closed until it shows it will comply with public health measures meant to contain the spread of the virus.

Dozens of police officers monitored the large crowd as they sang hymns and prayed for the church to reopen.

Some supporters shouted at police, saying officers should be ashamed of themselves for the closure.

RCMP said in a statement they will only use the level of intervention necessary to maintain peace, order and safety.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 11, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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World men's curling championship resumes amid COVID scare

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CALGARY — The men’s world curling championship playoffs were given the green light to resume Sunday after a suspension of games due to COVID-19.

Four participants, including three from non-playoff teams, tested positive from the virus. The other athlete from a playoff team who tested positive wasn’t allowed to compete Sunday.

Saturday’s playoff game and a pair of semifinals were postponed while more testing was conducted. 

Alberta Health approved the resumption of the championship, the World Curling Federation said.

The United States and Switzerland were to meet in a playoff game  Sunday morning, followed by afternoon semifinals involving Sweden, Russia and Scotland and the playoff winner.

The gold and bronze-medal games were scheduled for the same draw in the evening.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 11, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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