Potential athletic stoppage hurts everyone

As you can see throughout this edition of the Fort Frances Times, this time of year is an exciting one for those involved with Muskie athletics.
The boys’ basketball and girls’ volleyball teams are getting ready to start another NorWOSSA campaign, the hockey programs already are well into their seasons, and the Fort High curling rinks are gearing up for their first bonspiels.
But that excitement quickly has been snuffed out and replaced with feelings of nervousness and disappointment.
While no one knows yet how long the teams may be sidelined, the potential stoppage of athletics at Fort High due to the latest work-to-rule edict set out by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation is one that affects many.
Although both hockey squads and all four winter court sport teams are going about their regularly-scheduled games this week, the Muskies’ seasons will come to an abrupt halt come Monday (Dec. 10), with the rest of their schedules currently up in limbo, until progress is made in the union’s dispute with the provincial government over Bill 115.
While it’s not just athletic programs affected by the teachers’ decision to withdraw from extra-curricular activities, those who play high school sports are faced with the fact that their seasons soon will be on hold.
“Now that we know that extra-curricular activities are ending on Monday, all that we have left is our league game on Wednesday [in Kenora] and our tournament here this weekend, and then we don’t know what else,” lamented Muskie junior boys’ basketball player Alex Gustafson.
“It’s pretty disappointing for all of us to find out, but we are just going to go out there and give it everything that we have in those games,” he added.
There are hopes the stoppage will end quickly and that an agreement can be reached.
But as hockey fans already have seen with the lengthy NHL lockout, it’s hard to know when—or if—a deal is forthcoming.
Personally speaking, I can’t help but feel bummed for not only the players affected by the latest goings-on in the labour fight, but also those who coach the teams.
Whether it be those who actually are teachers at Fort High, or others volunteering their time away from work, I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to tell the players that their seasons are being ground to a halt come Monday, especially those just getting ready to start the NorWOSSA court seasons today.
And for the players, especially those in their final year as a Muskie, it has to be incredibly hard to take.
While the main purpose of high school is obviously to work towards getting an education and setting your self up to attend a post-secondary institution, those memories gained from high school sports are ones that last a lifetime.
To have that taken away from you, for reasons that are beyond your control, obviously is tough to take.
Here’s hoping the Muskie athletes, and everyone else involved in after-school activities, are able to do what they enjoy again as soon as possible.