Thursday, March 19, 2020

IRT cancels two events & where we are now

Another day, and another racquetball organization cancels tournaments due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation. Today, the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) announced Thursday that both their Denver event (scheduled for April 30-May 3) and their Sarasota event (May 14-17) have been cancelled.

On their website, the IRT states "these are critical times for everyone. The safety of our athletes is of the utmost importance to us. Without having events and clubs shut down, it makes it difficult for players to not only practice but make an income. We hope to come out of this challenging time stronger than before. Stay healthy & safe."

The statement is a bit awkward in highlighting players' incomes, and not taking fans into account also. Because some of the point in what people are being asked to do here - in terms of social isolation - is for people to be separated so that the spread of the virus is limited. That is, this is very much a case of it not just being about YOU, and what happens to YOU, but about what you could do to others. That is, who you could infect.

This is why we were so surprised that last weekend’s IRT Shamrock Shootout in Lombard, Illinois was not cancelled. That’s especially in light of the fact the World Health Organization identified the situation as a pandemic on Wednesday, and the City of Chicago recommended against gatherings of 250 people or more. There were 203 players registered in the Shamrock Shootout, so there were likely more than 250 people in the club during that event.

Of course, the COVID-19 developments have happened quickly, and sporting events began to be cancelled in the middle of last week, when players would have already been in Lombard. It can be more difficult for a small enterprise (like the IRT) than a large enterprise (like the NBC, NHL, etc) to walk away from money, and cancelling last week would have meant no one gets paid, yet everyone would have expenses. Not a happy prospect.

But, as some people say “hard choices, easy life - easy choices, hard life.”

It would have been a hard choice to cancel last week, but it would have been a better choice.

There will probably be more hard choices before this is over, and we wish you the best in making them.

Follow the bouncing ball….


Todd Boss said...

By no means am I a right-wing corona virus denier.

But I have no problem with the Chicago-based event going on the way it did. They went by the best information AT THE TIME. Its important to consider just how fast changing knowledge was happening throughout the last two weeks. To wit ... the LPRT Boston Open finished 4 days before the Chicago event started, but NOBODY ever mentioned any idea of cancelling. That's how much changed in 4 days, and how much things have now changed in the last 14 some-odd days. You just cannot pass judgement on someone making a decision on Wednesday 3/12/20 based on information we now know on 3/20/20.

The Tourney director was on record as saying the following (this is his quote):

"At the time, the official edict in Illinois was no gatherings over 1,000 people. Maybe 400 or so people went thru the club over the weekend. Lots of soap and sanitizer available."

So, irrespective of what the WHO said as guidelines ... this is the USA; there's (still!) no federal guidelines for this disease. So its state-to-state. So the state guidelines were the ones in force. And the tournament abided by what hte state of Illinois said as of the wednesday before the event.

The Racquetball Blog said...

I agree that the situation has developed quickly. But as I referenced in a previous post Chicago recommended against gatherings of over 250 people prior to start of the tournament. From a City of Chicago press release on Thursday March 12: "the State and the City are encouraging that community events of 250 people or more should be cancelled or postponed until May 1." The Shamrock Shootout could have been cancelled on Friday, with a split of the prize money equally between who was left in the draw at that point. Look, I'm not in your country, so I'm not hearing what you're hearing. We had a local junior racquetball event for about 25 kids scheduled for Saturday the 14th, and we cancelled it on the 13th, because based on the information we had that was the best decision. It wasn't a happy choice, but it was the right choice.