ESTEVAN - Estevan Comprehensive School principal Nathan Johnson hopes the McLeod Series basketball showdown with the Weyburn Comprehensive School can once again be an annual event, even if it was cancelled for this year.
Weyburn announced on its Facebook page on Jan. 24 that the McLeod Series wouldn’t be happening this year, citing "high emotions" and "threatening behaviour" during and after games.
The McLeod Series is a four-game total point basketball series between senior boys’ and girls’ basketball teams from the two schools. The event started in 1932 and since then, the games have been played with a few breaks over the years.
Weyburn leads the all-time series 46-40, and has won the past four editions.
“The McLeod Basketball Series has been very competitive throughout the years as basketball has evolved with the growth of our province and its schools. Due to the highly competitive nature of sport in our country, province and schools, fan expectations and codes of conduct have been put in place to ensure that players, coaches, and fans have a positive and safe competitive experience at all school athletic events,” the Weyburn Comp. said on its Facebook page.
“In some situations, emotions have run high and harassment and threatening behaviour directed to both players and coaches during the game and after the game, both in the school and extending beyond the school grounds, has occurred.
“As such, the decision has been made to take a break from the McLeod Series play this year to allow fans, players and coaches to review and reflect on participant expectations and codes of conduct. We hope that this series break will support all participants in being active and positive spectators at future school series events.”
This is the second time in three years the series won’t be happening. It was also cancelled in 2021 due to restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Johnson said there had been discussions earlier in the school year about what had happened in years past.
“There was conversation about this event. I think there was a miscommunication about how we were going to proceed with our conversations,” said Johnson.
Johnson said discussions about cancelling the McLeod Series occurred in December, starting at the coaches’ level and then moving up to administration.
“There was a conversation and we knew there were concerns, so head coaches of the teams and I talked, and then there was a follow up conversation with their school as well,” said Johnson.
There were not any discussions in January.
Students and coaches have been disappointed since the announcement was made, he said, but they recognize things need to be a little better.
“But that doesn’t change the disappointment,” said Johnson. “It’s an exciting event to be part of if done well.”
Johnson noted there was also concerning behaviour in the Co-op Challenge volleyball series between the two schools in October, but that wasn’t a factor in cancelling the McLeod Series.
The school has dealt with situations of harassing or threatening behaviour involving students after these events, Johnson said, not just in 2022, but in other years. Incidents happened in both communities.
The announcement generated a firestorm of discussion on social media and in the community the past few days, with most criticizing the cancellation. Johnson said the reaction was what they expected, because people are passionate about sports.
“We look forward to having future events, we just know it’s not going to happen this year,” said Johnson.
There was no immediate discussion in the days after the announcement about trying to make it work this year, he said.
Johnson is hopeful that the McLeod Series can return next year.
“With some planning, and putting some additional measures in place, we can have a really … productive experience for the kids, but that’s not on the table right now,” said Johnson.