Students compete in one day Hoopla championship amid STF contract negotiations

Over 700 student athletes in Saskatchewan were supposed to compete in the high school basketball provincials, known as Hoopla, this week in Moose Jaw.

The tournament would have started on Thursday, but it was cancelled due to a job action by the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation that included a province-wide withdrawal of extracurriculars.

In place of the tournament, organizers announced a one-day event where every team that qualified for Hoopla would be invited to play a single game, with matchups determined by seeding.

A full schedule for the Saturday event and where the games are being played can be seen below.

A schedule for Saturday’s one-day Hoopla championship.

Courtesy of the Saskatchewan High Schools Athletic Association

“As students have endured the unrest, they demonstrated many of the qualities that their coaches have tried to nurture in an educational athletic setting,” a release from the Saskatchewan High School Athletic Association (SHSAA) read.  “We have also been made aware of many situations where teams have come together to cope and support each other through the disappointment.

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This is the third time in five years that Hoopla has been cancelled. In 2020, sanctions by the STF as part of the previous contract negotiations with the government shut down the tournament, and in 2021 the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to event.

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Over the last week, students have protested in front of government MLA offices, STF offices and the provincial legislature, urging the sides to come to an agreement.

“Throughout this process we have provided government with multiple off-ramps to end sanctions and ensure that activities and events such as Hoopla, the Regina Optimist Band Festival, the Skills Canada Saskatchewan Provincial Competition, and many, many more could take place as originally planned,” read a release from STF.

“We are deeply disappointed that government simply refuses to meet teachers halfway.”

Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill is urging the STF to “get back to the bargaining table.”

“It’s Hoopla this week, but it’s graduation next month. I don’t think that’s right, to be using students as bargaining chips in this whole issue. If it’s about the kids, the adults need to be at the bargaining table.”

Global News will have more from the one-day tournament as games progress.

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