Members of the Central Collegiate girls’ basketball team took to the streets in front of city hall today as it was announced that Saskatchewan’s provincial high school basketball championship, Hoopla, is on the verge of being cancelled. 

Hoopla was supposed to take place in Moose Jaw starting on Thursday. The tournament would have included six teams from Moose Jaw. 

After the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation announced that extra-circular activities would be cancelled on Thursday and Friday due to the labour dispute with the province, the Saskatchewan High School Athletics (SHSAA) announced that, unless sanctions are removed before 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Hoopla will be cancelled. 

There were at least 50 student-athletes who took part in the rally, doing loops through crosswalks and standing on the median on Main Street. 

“It was basically what can we do to try and make it happen and at least show that we can and that it’s affecting all of us,” said Lucy McLean, 16, a point guard with the Central girls’ team. “Even if it doesn’t change a whole lot, at least we’ll try and show that we care and fight for it.” 

McLean added that the students feel like pawns when it comes to the labour dispute. 

“It shouldn’t be affecting us as much as it is, and Hoopla is a huge thing. It’s more than just a tournament and it’s been super heartbreaking and disappointing seeing all of our Grade 12s losing the biggest thing for basketball that there is this year,” she said. 

For the organizers of the tournament, the news that Hoopla could be cancelled comes as a disappointment. Hoopla host cities generally go on a six-year rotation and Moose Jaw last hosted in 2016. 

Roger Morgan is the chair of the Hoopla organization committee and athletic commissioner for the Prairie South School Division. He said they are still staying “cautiously optimistic” that the tournament can move forward. 

“I’ve had conversations both with the STF and the Minister of Education in the last 24 hours and they’ve both indicated that they want to find an avenue to a solution and open a discussion,” Morgan said. 

Morgan added that next year Moose Jaw will host the SHSAA provincial track and field championships which will bring about 1,500 athletes and the SHSAA annual general meeting. 

As for hosting Hoopla, he said they will look to host the tournament again in two years if the labour dispute causes a disruption. 

“If we don't get the host this year, it's not like the opportunity is going to be six more years away. We're going to look very seriously at hosting again in 2026 so that the opportunity doesn't skip us,” said Morgan. 

As for now, Morgan said all the organizing committee can do now and wait on pins and needles. He added that the cancellation will affect more than just the coaches and student-athletes. 

“It’s the hotels that have been booked for a year in advance and have a waiting list and they are wondering what to do, and the parents that are traveling from every corner of the province to come here that are still wondering what to do. The restaurants that have hired extra staff this weekend and have food prepped are waiting and wondering what to do. The volunteers that have stepped forward, 350 people have committed time to making this event happen this weekend and they’re wondering how that affects them,” he said.