If this was to be a normal year-in-review for these pages, you would see a smorgasbord of events that happened over the 12 months that made up The Year of our Lord 2020 A.D.

You and I and everyone else who were forced to navigate the absolute clusterfunk that was The Year Covid-19 Swallowed Us Whole knows that there was no smorgasbord of events over the past 12 months. We were lucky to see anything resembling a sporting event considering we had been told that we were all going to die … or at least come close to death. If not from Covid-19, I was quietly pulling for the Sweet Meteor Of Death.

Since neither happened to me, won’t you join me for a shorter-than-normal voyage through the sports landscape of 2020:

In January, the Jon Lindell Memorial Calm Air Cup took place in Arviat with Eskimo Point Lumber Supply of the host community coming out on top over Rankin Inlet to claim the crown. Preparations continued for the Arctic Winter Games as teams were finalized and rosters submitted.
We all know how that turned out but more on that later.

Four members of the speedskating squad that made the trip to the Atlantic Cup in Dieppe, N.B., in February came home with medals. They are, from left, Aura Kwon, Miles Brewster, Akutaq Williamson-Bathory and William Pothier. photo courtesy of Nunavut Speed Skating

February saw the speedskaters from Iqaluit head out east for the Atlantic Cup in Dieppe, N.B., with four of the gang of 13 coming home with medals: Aura Kwon, Miles Brewster, William Pothier and Akutaq Williamson Bathory. February was also a big month for the territory at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts as they knocked off both Northern Ontario and Quebec, marking the first time a team from Nunavut had won multiple games at the event and almost certainly giving sportswriter Terry Jones a severe case of heartburn.

Then came March 7, one week before we were all set to leave for Whitehorse.

Yukon’s chief medical health officer made the announcement that the 2020 Arctic Winter Games were being cancelled because of this coronavirus thing that was taking over the world. Depending on who you spoke to, it was either the right decision or an absolute rush to judgment. Either way, no one was going to Whitehorse this year.

That got my gears rolling – what else is going to be cancelled? Little did I know.

Pretty much every other sporting event scheduled for 2020 had either been postponed or cancelled. North American Indigenous Games postponed, Arctic Winter Games would now continue as planned in 2022 (or so we think), no Super Soccer, no National Aboriginal Hockey Championships. Zilch.
And so we waited. And waited. And wondered. And hoped. And waited. And lost our minds. And still waited.

Softball was one of the few outdoor group activities that was allowed by public health guidelines this summer. The 2020 Calm Air Cup mixed-softball champion Rankin Freaks are, back row from left, Lee Kreelak, Donovan Ayaruak, Chad Taipana, Chad Graham, James Merritt, Airo King, Seamas Ayaruak and Norman Okalik, and, front row from left, Shirley Nakoolak, Tracey Roach, Catherine Ayaruak, Kandace Graham and Olivia Tagalik in Rankin Inlet on Aug. 30. photo courtesy Kandace Graham.

There was some good that came from it, though. The Terence Tootoo Memorial Hockey Tournament was supposed to be held in Rankin Inlet but it, too, fell victim to Covid-19. The organizing committee, though, turned it into a positive when it decided to donate 22 pizzas, made by Chadd Burrill at the Slapshot Canteen, to families in the community who needed a bit of extra food.

Fishing derbies happened, though distanced, of course. But it was better than nothing because up to that point, there was nothing.

So if you were to write the script for 2020, it would go something like this: it sucked. We’re four days into 2021 and already, there’s a feeling that this will be better. The bar has been set really, really, really, really low and now that we have an approved vaccine, things can get back to normal eventually.

That’s what we were promised.

It means that athletes may get to travel again … at least to Yellowknife for school sports events. It means we’ll be able to get back into gyms and arenas as we used to and not have to worry about counting heads. It means communities can once again enjoy being active as opposed to spending time reading pages like this talk about how Covid-19 has turned the world upside down.

So let’s all rejoice at the fact that it’s no longer 2020. And let’s all rejoice that the Sweet Meteor Of Death can hold off for another year.

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