'It dashed those hopes': The U of M Bisons sidelined as Canada West cancels season for team sports until 2021
Published Monday, June 8, 2020 7:39PM CST
IG Field, where the University of Manitoba Bisons play home football games, is pictured in an undated image. Canada West announced Monday that no conference competition in football will take place during the first term of the 2020-21 season.
WINNIPEG -- University of Manitoba football program’s head coach, Brian Dobie, spent most of Monday in meetings, though it wasn’t for recruitment, or planning for next season.
Dobie had to deliver the news to his players and staff, there will be no season in 2020 after Canada West announced the cancellation of first-term competitions due to COVID-19.
“Some of the players I’ve spoken to resigned to it, to a point, (they are) very dejected," Dobie said.
He said Canada West’s decision to cancel all fall competitions along with its national governing body, USPORTS, cancelling all national championships for team sports that were to be held before January 2021 was met with devastation by the entire team.
“Many of them if not all of them felt that somehow, someway we’re going to work through all this, it’s going to work out,” said Dobie.
“This announcement thrown their way is very tough, it dashed those hopes.”
While Canada West is not expected to make a decision on whether to forego individual fall sports such as golf and cross country running until July, Monday’s announcement also impacts university hockey, basketball and volleyball as those seasons are played through both the fall and winter terms.
For the Bisons football program, having finished 2019 with nail-biting loss in the Hardy Cup Playoffs to the eventual national champion University of Calgary Dinos on Nov. 2, the team is now in the middle of an offseason that will last more than 20 months. While the team was looking forward to building on a strong finish to the season, Dobie said this decision is based on something much bigger than football.
“It’s a pandemic. Tons of people have lost their jobs, their livelihood, and many people have died during this time,” Dobie said.
“So, putting things into perspective is going to help our players work through all of this.”
Dobie said the pandemic is bringing some unprecedented challenges, both on and off the field, for all athletic programs across the country, but said while athletic departments work through them it is important to keep things in perspective.
“Our season is gone, our program isn’t,” Dobe said.
“So, we need to continue to train and we need to find ways, as things open up, to get back on the practice field.”
None of the affected Canada West athletes will lose a year of eligibility, or scholarships, which could pose an even greater challenge for the rookie class of 2021. The cancelled season will mean a double cohort of recruits trying to make the team in the upcome training camp.
For now, Dobie said he and many other coaches will help athletes cope with the news and plan a way to work through it and prepare for the return of Canada West football.