Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Feb. 18, 2021 — A leading indicator of sport makes another call

This afternoon, the Ivy League, the very first college conference to make a call regarding the cancellation of sports, made another announcement.

The announcement was that the Ancient Eight, which has cancelled virtually all intercollegiate competition since March of 2020, is continuing with the cancellations through the spring semester. Specifically, there will be no regular-season competition in spring sports such as lacrosse, baseball, and softball. There also will be no Ivy League championship tournaments.

There are, however, a couple of baby steps towards competition. One of the steps is that practice and training are allowed for teams, subject to local regulations and campus protocols.

The other, however, is that Ivy League teams are permitted, if local regulations allow, to schedule local opponents located within 40 miles of campus for a limited intercollegiate schedule. This means that Yale can schedule Connecticut, or Pennsylvania can schedule Villanova.

This allowance, however, is based upon several dependent variables. None of the eight schools, according to reports, have satisfied as many as three of them.

The Ivy League’s caution, when it comes to competition, has now extended into a fourth athletic season over the last 11 months. And while college sports have gone forward, they do so at considerable risk. We have seen the Duke and Virginia women’s basketball teams shut down their season, and we have seen a number of schools such as Connecticut and Michigan pausing their athletic pursuits for a time.

The Ivy League, however, has a pair of unique challenges. One is the wide national and international reach of admitted students and student-athletes, which makes bringing all of them onto campus incredibly hazardous.

In addition, all eight universities were founded before the end of the U.S. Civil War. Buildings and infrastructure at these schools were not envisioned to require the kinds of social distancing that are commonplace today.

This cannot have been an easy decision for the Ivy League’s presidents, especially given the kinds of physical and infrastructural gymnastics that have been engineered in the name of distance learning.

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