Why adult sports in B.C. are shut down, but kids can keep playing
VANCOUVER -- From hockey to soccer, curling and even bowling, nearly all adult sports have been suspended in B.C.
“A lot of these adult team sports are as much social gatherings as they are sport,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Thursday. “It’s the going for a coffee or a beer after a game that has been the most (common) source of transmission. But sometimes it’s very difficult, because a lot of that is built into the culture of many of the adult team sports.”
Henry says kids’ sports don’t have the same history of COVID-19 transmission, so they’re allowed to continue, but players can only practice with their teams. No games are being held and there is no travel between jurisdictions.
“We are hoping we can preserve, safely, those opportunities for young people without the riskier parts of what they’re doing around playing games and travel,” said Henry.
The Adult Safe Hockey League is one of the largest organizations impacted by the adult sports shutdown. Its 400 teams play out of three Canlan Ice Sports facilities in Burnaby, Langley and North Vancouver, and they just resumed full-game play last week.
“It’s frustrating for our hockey players, those that come to play, they need an outlet,” said Canlan Ice Sports executive vice president Mike Gellard.
He said Canlan facilities have done everything they can can to keep players and staff safe, including plexiglass dividers on the bench and strict time limits in dressing rooms. But he recognizes pre-and post game gatherings can be an issue.
“It’s not the on ice where the risk is,” said Gellard. “The biggest part of an adult hockey game was having a beer after the game in a room. Well, obviously that doesn’t happen anymore. Where they go after the game, we really can’t control that.”
The owner of Scottsdale Lanes is disappointed bowling is included in the adult sports ban. Families can still drop in to play with the members of their household bubble, but adult league games have been suspended.
“Our leagues are totally our bread and butter,” Ken Clarke said. “If we don’t have our leagues, it’s questionable whether it’s even worth being open. I would say 80 per cent of our revenue is league-based revenue.”
Children’s bowling leagues can continue, and kids can keep practicing with their sports teams. Dance studios have also been allowed to reopen, but again, for children’s programs only.
With all adult hockey programs now cancelled, Canlan Ice Sports facilities will be nearly empty at what is normally a very busy time of year.
“We’re going to have a lot of open ice, so if you want to buy some ice, give us a call,” Gellard said.
As for when the adult teams could return?
“The only way we’re going to be able to reopen is if COVID numbers get better and the vaccine starts to get distributed,” he said. “So I think we are in this for a little bit longer.”