Six volleyball athletes pose for a picture. All six athletes are masked. COVID-19's Impact on Sport Delivery. Spark Solutions.

COVID-19’s Impact on Sport Delivery in Saskatchewan – Part 2

Last week, I shared Part 1 of a three-part series on COVID-19’s impact on sport delivery in Saskatchewan (read COVID-19’s Impact on Sport Delivery in Saskatchewan – Part 1 here). We looked at the changes Football Sask, Sask Volleyball, Golf Saskatchewan, Ringette Saskatchewan, and Saskatchewan Soccer had to make due to pandemic regulations. Today, I share Part 2, where we learn about the impact the pandemic has had on each sport.


Football experienced impact in two areas. First, while football saw growth in flag football, it wiped out competitive participation for high-level athletes. Highschool football programs had to run internally, and while some chose to run a season on a short timeframe, many didn’t. University program competition was also cancelled and those teams practiced internally too. Second, the pandemic highlighted football programs’ emphasis on safety. Groups took great pride in the safety protocols and adapted in their communities to make sport delivery safe. Football Sask is very proud that their efforts resulted in no transmission within their sport. As well, Football Sask was able to pass federal funding along to its clubs to help replenish and cycle out equipment required for the tackle football discipline. This means that participants will come back to better, safer equipment when they return to play, which is very exciting.


Like football, volleyball in Saskatchewan experienced both negative and positive impacts. Sask Volleyball had roughly 50% fewer registrants than the year previous, since high school teams, First Nations adult and youth championships, and FISN Tony Cote Summer Games were all cancelled. After I spoke with Sask Volleyball last week, they announced the cancellation of the remaining season, which means even less participants in all categories – youth and adult players, coaches, and referees. However, it’s not all negative. Sask Volleyball received some federal funding and has been able to support half a dozen of the province’s clubs to secure leases on facilities. More funding, and more facilities, may be on the way. Three of these projects are expected to become permanent facilities. Greater access to facilities will have a positive impact on the sport for years to come.

A team of athletes stand, socially distanced, on a football field. COVID-19's Impact on Sport Delivery. Spark Solutions.


Golf’s impact from the pandemic was largely positive. Golf was one of the first sports available and one of the limited things to do. The sport experienced a big influx of people trying the sport for the first time or coming back to the sport after time away. Those who regularly golf ramped up participation. The pandemic brought a lot of people to the game. Some golf traditionalists were critical that those trying the sport were not wearing the right attire, were not using the right equipment, or did not follow traditional rules. Despite this, golf experiences were overwhelmingly positive, with good course conditions, good course flow, and no wait times on the course (due to tee times every ten minutes). Golf Saskatchewan hopes to capitalize on this again in 2021. 


Ringette felt the impact of the pandemic through increased ice costs and the limiting of adult participants. Teams would normally share ice times in order to share costs, but pandemic regulations prohibited this. This meant that costs per participant rose. Ringette Saskatchewan diverted some federal funding back to member associations to help offset this cost. Adult participants have not been able to participate since December 18th, when pandemic regulations changed again. Since adult leagues have been cancelled, adult participants have not been able to be involved in the sport they grew up playing.


Soccer has felt similar impacts to their sport as ringette. As a team sport, team play is impossible with competition suspended. League format is the common form of delivery of soccer in Saskatchewan, but this hasn’t been possible for most of the pandemic. Saskatchewan Soccer has done what it can over the last year to make play possible. This has included changing field sizes and team sizes, who teams can play and when. Likewise, adult participation has ceased to exist. The inability to play the adult game has made an immense impact now, but long-term impacts remain to be seen. Will adult participants come back in droves, or have they realized they can do without the sport? Time will tell.

These five sports illustrate that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on sport delivery in Saskatchewan. The five sports also illustrate that the pandemic has had some positive impacts as well. Next week, in Part 3, we will learn what insights these sports have gained, and the sports’ answers will be insightful!

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