No cricket league or association operating in Ontario, no elite division within any such Ontario cricket league and no elite youth division in any such Ontario cricket league has “elite” or “special status” at present under the regulations associated with the “Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020″. This situation applies in mid-July 2021 despite various improvements in the regulations associated with the Act since last summer. It is a situation where certain Canadian and Ontario cricketing leaders could and should have taken some steps to support leading Canadian senior and junior players and coaches. Now I admit much of the progress in Ontario regulatory detail has only been achieved in the last two or three months based on my reading, but some from the Ontario cricket world should have tried to improve the pace and quality of the Ontario Government’s performance.
Some changes where what had been “Stage 3″ in the summer of 2020 transformed into “Step 3″ in the summer of 2021 make you wonder why the word changed. But the Ontario Government’s powers that be may have confused themselves via the introduction of the five colour scheme approach that was incorporated into the three Stage approach as leaves began to fall in 2020.
The Ontario cricket scene was then put to rest via the mid-November 2020 lockdown despite the need for leading players who have or might in future play for Canada internationally to be allowed to train and have net practices. A situation that could be addressed for the coming months, including the 2021-2022 winter months if some combination of cricketing leaders at the national and Ontario levels work to have “special status” – elite- cricketing needs duly recognized via the Ontario COVID-19 regulatory scheme.
I admit there is something of a tangled web involved in reading the various regulations and amended versions which might be an excuse for not looking into the detail. But leaders of the various team sports played in Ontario need to be on the ball or the puck in order to gain appropriate recognition for elite junior and senior players needs in the particular sport such leaders are meant to represent with sports and governmental bodies at the appropriate provincial, national and international levels.
Much more detailed Ontario regulations exist in July 2021 than were in place when various outdoor recreational and amateur team sports first gained a green or orange light in the summer of 2020. Some high contact team sports remained under a red light last summer whilst sorting out a non-contact or reduced contact approach to a particular sport.
Back in July 2020 there was provision for sports teams in one of seven professional sports leagues to play their team sport in Ontario “if they operate in accordance with a return to play plan approved by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health”. Those seven leagues were: Canadian Elite Basketball League, Canadian Football League, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League and National Lacrosse League. No games were played in either the Canadian Football League or the National Lacrosse League during 2020 but the Ontario regulations did include provision for National Hockey League Major League Baseball hubs.
“Special status” is the term I am using for sports, leagues and associations – and sometimes only certain divisions within a particular league – that are currently recognized with an elite (or “special”) status due to inclusion in one of two the tables in the current “Ontario Regulations for Areas in Step 3″. I have included each of the two tables from which “special status” is currently derived in Appendix A at the end of this article. The two tables are: “ Table 1 Professional Sport Leagues or Associations” and “Table 2 Elite Amateur Sports Leagues or Associations”.
The current Table 1 Professional Sport Leagues or Associations has now has 13 entries compared with just 7 in July 2020. There was no equivalent to the consideration of elite amateur team sports in July 2020 but there is a door, via Table 2, that cricket could and should open this year. The door leads to potential banquets for Canadian cricketers at upcoming ICC Cricket World Cups for Under-19s, for T20s and for ODIs.
Clearly I think the cricketing powers that be who reside in Ontario should be seeking to have appropriate Ontario cricket leagues or divisions within such leagues included due to their “special status” in “Table 2 Elite Amateur Sports Leagues or Associations”.
The Ontario Junior “A” Lacrosse League, the Ontario Women’s Field Lacrosse U 19 “A” League, the Elite Baseball League of Ontario U 18 Division and the Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association are examples of sports leagues allowed to operate due to their inclusion in “ Table 2 Elite Amateur Sports Leagues or Associations” of the current Ontario Step 3 regulations associated with the Reopening Ontario Act.
Potential for Including Some Cricket Events and Leagues
The potential exists for an event such as a Canada Global T20 tournament to be organized and operate for the participants (i.e. the players, coaches, umpires) “in an international single sport event hosted by hosted by a national sport organization that is either funded by Sport Canada or recognized by the Canadian Olympic Committee or the Canadian Paralympic Committee.”
Cricket Canada has Canadian Olympic Committee recognition based on what I have read and seen via the Cricket Canada website. I think I verified that information back to the Canadian Olympic Committee website some time last year. But, last year, Ontario’s regulations associated with the Reopening Ontario Act were rather thin on detail, in my opinion, and there was only a short list of certain professional sports leagues that might be allowed to operate subject to approval from the appropriate public health authorities, which required Federal Government approval in the case of North American leagues that normally have teams and games in both the Canada and USA.
The door is now potentially open for the likes of Cricket Canada to seek to hold a national tournament in Ontario and for the likes of Cricket Ontario to host provincial cricket championships at junior and adult levels as “elite events” with formal recognition by the Government of Ontario. So, potentially some cricket events could gain provincial approval for inclusion in “ Table 2 Elite Amateur Sports Leagues or Associations” if the powers that be within
Cricket Canada and Cricket Ontario set the ball rolling.
Setting the ball rolling requires some people to be on top of the COVID-19 pandemic acts and regulations as well as the many amendments to the regulations that flow from the Government of Ontario. Regulations that have not always seem to be readily available in detail until after announcements via media conferences. But things have improved in recent months in my opinion although nowhere close to bronze, silver or gold star levels. Details still seem to have too much muddy water in my view but that is an improvement from no water for an unknown distance in a dust bowl or desert.
How can various inspectors check for compliance if the detailed requirements are not in place? With difficulty would be a polite response in my opinion.
One of the features of the sports and associations listed in the two tables is the existence of some professional administrators and staff to create and distribute detailed plans to member clubs or schools. Plans that almost certainly require approval by clubs, schools and the boards that oversee the particular sport, especially regarding the amateur sports. Certain professional sports leagues may appear to some as dictatorships although board approvals are, in general, required.
Putting More than One Toe into the Ontario Legal and Regulatory World
If you read the “General Rules” that follow the heading “Schedule 1″ in the current Ontario Regulations for “Rules for Areas in Step 3″ (Ontario Regulation 364/20) which, in turn, are associated with the “Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020″ you find that in between the basic rules and regulations for what can be open or closed in broad or narrower strokes of the pen or printed word in Ontario you find that the Provincial Government has made progress in allowing broad approval for certain special sports events (including the hosting of international sports tournaments) and certain sports leagues to operate on a more open basis than, shall we say, a neighbourhood or local community sports league.
Some of the day-to-day provisions under “Schedule 1 General Rules” of the “Rules for Areas in Step 3″ about whoever is responsible for a business or place that is open do not apply to:
a) participants in an international single sport event hosted by a national sport organization that is either funded by Sport Canada or recognized by the Canadian Olympic Committee or the Canadian Paralympic Committee. [See Section 4.(3) in Schedule 1 General Rules];
b) participants in a sport league or sport association identified in the two Tables that at present are included as part of subsection 4(4). As these tables deal with “elite” sports events, only a particular division or tier or age group within a league might be given special status. Some Under-19 and Under-18 leagues or divisions are listed in the current Table 2 as such elite leagues are stepping stones to potential international youth championships. By contrast, no Under-17 or Under-15 league or division is currently assigned “elite” status.
As almost certainly previously mentioned, the number of tables and the contents of the existing two tables associated with subsection 4(4) of the Schedule 1 General Rules are subject to change. Let’s look forward to seeing the needs of cricket’s elite players and coaches being included in an amended version of the Ontario Regulation 364/20 in the near future.
Eddie Norfolk Toronto,
15 July 2021
Appendix A: Existing Tables 1 and 2 Under Current Ontario Regulations
(15 July 2021 around 1am)
A. 1 Table 1 Professional Sport Leagues or Associations
Hockey (4): National Hockey League; American Hockey League; National Women’s Hockey League; Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association.
Baseball (1): Major League Baseball
Basketball (3): National Basketball Association; NBA G League; Canadian Elite Basketball League
Football (1): Canadian Football League.
Soccer (3) : Major League Soccer (Soccer); Canadian Premier League; USL League 1 Lacrosse (1): National Lacrosse League (Lacrosse)
A.2 Table 2 Elite Amateur Sport Leagues or Associations
Hockey (2): Canadian Hockey League (the overall CHL includes the Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Western Hockey League plus the annual CHL Memorial Cup playoffs that are hosted on a rotating basis by each of the CHL’s three regional leagues); Provincial Women’s Hockey League
Lacrosse (2): Ontario Junior “A” Lacrosse League; Ontario Women’s Field Lacrosse U 19 “A” League
Baseball (1): Elite Baseball League of Ontario U 18 Division;
Basketball (1): Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association
Soccer (1): League 1 Ontario