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McLurg girls qualify for Hoopla but cancellation possible

Announcement of the possible cancellation of the much anticipated Hoopla has teams up in arms.
With uncertainty in the air, many Hoopla teams are concerned the event will be cancelled.

WILKIE — The McLurg High School senior girls’ basketball team handily won their 1A regional tournament, March 16. There were no conferences for the 1A girls; all teams advanced directly to regionals.

The four teams in the Wilkie-hosted regionals were McLurg, Beauval, Saskatoon Christian School and Herbert. Beauval bowed out so forfeited both their games 20-0, including the first game against the Broncs, giving McLurg the win.

Meanwhile, Saskatoon Christian School played Herbert and won that game 59-41, setting up the final between SCS and McLurg.

Both teams played hard with end-to-end action for much of the game, but ultimately the Broncs came out on top with an 84-73 score. As regional champions, the Wilkie team’s next stop should be Hoopla where they will first take on Coronach.

However, the holding of Hoopla 2024, scheduled for March 22 and 23, is in doubt. The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation on March 18 announced a one-day province-wide strike for March 20 and the withdrawal of extracurricular services on March 21 and 22.

The STF announcement prompted the Saskatchewan High Schools Athletic Association to make an announcement of its own, as follows.

With the STF job action announcement on Monday morning, the Board of Directors has determined that HOOPLA will continue if efforts between the two bargaining committees can result in sanctions being lifted before 3:00pm on Wednesday, March 20, 2024. If sanctions are not lifted, HOOPLA will be cancelled due to the lack of teacher involvement in the events and the constraints for schools and host sites in planning and preparing for the events.

The SHSAA relies heavily on the volunteer efforts of teachers across this province to provide educational athletic experiences to our students. Without Saskatchewan teachers available to participate in SHSAA activities as a coach, official, or organizer, SHSAA events cannot continue to be offered. This belief is consistent with the statements and thoughts provided by previous Board of Directors.

It will be extremely disappointing if the two sides cannot come to an arrangement that will allow the sanctions to be lifted. Approximately 750 students plus coaches, managers and other team personnel would be impacted by the cancellation as will several other organizations and entitites that are involved with SHSSA and the hosting of basketball playoffs. The negative economic impact will be vast.

SHSAA playoffs are a celebration of school sport in our province and provide a showcase for student-athletes as they finish their season of play. The playoffs are one of many programs that SHSAA utilizes to achieve the goals of school sport. The critical life skills that student-athletes attain are accumulated through months of participation in a school sport program. That being said, it cannot be denied that an opportunity to participate in school sport playoffs is another means to enhance the learning opportunities of students as they develop citizenship skills in a competitive sport environment.

The SHSAA Board of Directors and Office Staff will be unavailable for further comment as they urge the two sides to come together to alleviate the situation by 3:00pm on Wednesday, March 20, 2024.

Last week, Hoopla Committee Chair Roger Morgan, athletic commission for Prairie South School Division, also issued an announcement, saying that the committee was “in complete support of the STF” but that he wanted “to explain the amount of work that has gone into the organization of the Hoopla tournament and the impact [of] a cancellation.

“A 10 member volunteer committee has been meeting for 16 months in planning the event. We have 350 volunteers in place for the weekend. 48 teams and over 700 athletes will attend.

“We expect over 3000 attendees over the weekend. Every hotel room in Moose Jaw has been booked for over a year, restaurants have arranged for additional staff for the weekend. We have worked closely with Visit Moose Jaw which realizes this has a multi million dollar impact to the local economy.

“The (local very small) company we have in place producing commemorative clothing has ordered thousands of dollars worth of product and is holding off printing, but needs to start early next week.

“Over $6000 has been spent from our local sports association on preparation expenses that cannot be recouped. The pockets that came out of are not deep and cancellation will have an impact for years.

“The financial impact to the SHSAA will be upwards of $15,000 in lost revenue and expenses incurred.

“Over $8000 has been donated by local businesses in support of the event which would have to be returned and incurred expenses covered by local sports associations.

“The ripple effect of cancelling Hoopla will be felt provincially but extensively by the organizers, supporting businesses, and the community of Moose Jaw.”