The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to force adjustments to upcoming Special Olympics Wisconsin sports programming in 2022. The SOWI Sports team announced it will replace its typical 5v5 Team Basketball competition with a 3v3 Basketball State Tournament this April. Additionally, due to the current rates of local positive cases, the State Winter Games have been cancelled for 2022.
The parameters set forth by Special Olympics Inc. state no Special Olympics-hosted competitions are to take place should the threshold of daily reported positive cases per 100,000 people be higher than 50. Currently, the statewide count is at 98, while Marathon County, intended host of the 2022 State Winter Games this month, is at 126.
“We have made the very difficult decision to cancel this year’s State Winter Games,” said Jason Blank, Senior Director of Sports. “While we have seen a decline in the COVID-19 numbers from the spike in January, unfortunately they are still well above the threshold needed for offering in-person competition to our athletes.”
There is promise sports programming will return yet this spring as cases have shown a recent decline statewide. Anticipating this trend, the SOWI Sports team announced rather than cancelling Team Basketball activities altogether, it will provide an alternative team option at its Indoor State Tournament on April 9 at UW-Oshkosh’s Kolf Sports Center. Replacing its 5v5 Team Basketball competition with a 3v3 version not only allows for more teams to participate, but also better controls the amount of athletes in a confined space at a given time. Both traditional and unified 3v3 divisions will be offered.
In addition to the 3v3 Basketball State Tournament, SOWI has created a pair of Basketball Skills competitions to help athletes get back into basketball form. Regions 2, 3, 4, and 5 will compete at the Northern State Basketball Skills Competition at Neenah High School, while Regions 6, 7, and 8 will compete at the Southern State Basketball Skills Competition at Mukwonago High School. Both events will take place March 19.
“While certainly not ideal, we hope these 3v3 offerings paired with the adjusted Basketball Skills events can provide our basketball athletes and coaches an opportunity to get back on the floor,” Blank said.
Since events like the Polar Plunge, experiences with local professional sports organizations, and various other activities are not designed specifically for Special Olympics’ athlete competition, they are considered community events and therefore face fewer restrictions. These are classified as attend-at-your-own-risk, and all participants who choose to attend are strongly encouraged to be vaccinated, wash hands often, and wear masks for the event’s entirety.