WARMINGTON: Field of broken dreams as Ontario kids kept on sidelines

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Come on, Doug, let the kids play!

Those inviting nets sitting on empty soccer pitches across the GTA seem to be yearning for someone to bend a ball into the top corner. While permits can be acquired to hold pandemic-style practices, until Stage 2 of the reopening plan kicks in next month, no organized games or even scrimmages are permitted.

The result is no kids playing soccer or any organized sport right now.

It’s cruel, really. Somebody has to get the kids back playing sports again.

Not a year from now, not in the fall, not a month from now, not two weeks from now, or tomorrow. Don’t waste any more precious time. These young people have already had so much of their youth stolen from them.

“As sports minister, I’ve been waiting for this good news for the past 16 months,” MPP Lisa MacLeod told reporters Monday as she announced a framework to allow the return of professional and elite amateur sport.

So have the kids.

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Added MacLeod: “As a fan, I’m elated, and as a hockey mom and trainer, I’m relieved. Today is the day Ontario athletes and sports fans can finally say out loud: Let us play ball.”

But not the kids.

  1. The Blue Jays play an intrasquad game in an empty Rogers Centre on July 9, 2020 in Toronto.

    Ontario tells pro and elite athletes — play ball!

  2. Files: MPP Lisa MacLeod, the Ontario Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries.

    GARRIOCH: Ontario puts in framework to allow sports leagues to return to play

Just the highly paid athletes, or those on a path to the pro ranks. Most of the sports getting this provincial green light are already underway in the United States, or inside bubble arrangements.

Children have been benched and there are no concrete plans to get them back in action. They have had their proper schooling experience hijacked, their visits with grandparents, birthday parties, their friends, their dance classes, figure skating, karate, music lessons, and, of course, their sports.

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The children are having their childhoods stolen from them. While the professionals, elite and corporate athletes, and teams have had the door opened to them, the nightmare continues for regular kids who have gone a better part of two seasons of almost every sport without participating.

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It can’t be good for them.

With not every kid having the dream or ambition of athletic riches, vaccine and social distancing stresses and pressures should have no part in any decisions for children either.

It’s not necessary, in my opinion, to tie coronavirus immunization to opening sports, camps, or school for children.

But this may fall on deaf ears.

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“We are hopeful and we are mindful that as many more Ontarians get vaccinated, as many more Ontarians are free from COVID-19 and recovering that we’ll be in a better position,” said MacLeod.

In discussing a potential two-tiered reality for those watching sports, outgoing chief medical officer of health Dr. David Williams talked of the “challenge” of determining “how do we assure there aren’t people mixed in there who have not received the vaccine? Hopefully, they have been forthright in declaring and they may say, ‘Well, why can’t we go to the game as well?’ We want to address all those issues.”

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But keep the kids out of it. Playing sports should not be about profit, prestige, or getting needles, but about development and, somebody has to say it, fun.

There was a bit of a ray of hope Monday when MacLeod made the announcement of a framework to open things up for the NBA, NHL, OHL, TFC, the CFL and Major League Baseball. The big-money competitive leagues deserve to get back to regular business, no question, but missing was any concrete plan to get children’s soccer, T-ball, baseball, hockey or lacrosse back in action again.

Over to you, Doug.

jwarmington@postmedia.com

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