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Discussion: Bid for Junior Nationals 2021 Withdrawn

in: 2020 USA Junior Nationals - CANCELED (Apr 17–19, 2020 - Coupeville, WA, US)

Dec 16, 2020 10:56 PM # 
Pink Socks:
Just a quick update in case you hadn't heard...

Last month, CascadeOC withdrew its bid to host the 2021 Junior Nationals on Whidbey Island, WA.

Due to the pandemic, this event had been tentatively rescheduled to April 9-11, 2021 (from its original date April 17-19, 2020).

With 2020-2021 youth orienteering and JROTC seasons being canceled this fall and winter, and with an uncertain outlook with COVID-19 case rates, allowable gathering sizes, interstate travel recommendations, and vaccine schedules, the club felt that it wasn't in anyone's best interest to invite orienteers to travel across the country this spring. There are the obvious health risks, but we also felt like going forward would create an unfair competition where not everyone who wanted to participate would be able to.

We're less than four months from when the event was supposed to take place, and there's just not enough certainty for us to feel like we can make it happen like we wanted.

Currently, the club is not planning to resubmit a bid for 2022.
Dec 17, 2020 12:22 AM # 
I know this decision was some time in coming and not made lightly. I know that there were powers that be in O-USA fishing around for an alternate host and venue for 2021. I guess there were no takers.
Is it ironic that GAOC has scheduled their South-East Interscholastic Championships along with a NRE for that same April 9-11 weekend? I would have loved to see them upgrade their SEIC to the Junior Nationals or perhaps roll the two into one.
If they did that FLO and SOAR would be supporting worthy JROTC teams in the state who wanted to safely get themselves to a Junior Nats in Georgia. Financially that is do-able.
Best wishes for an early return to normalcy Pink Socks.
Dec 17, 2020 11:17 PM # 
@Gord: No irony: GAOC scheduled the SEIC for that weekend based on the COC cancellation.
There are still people who are encouraging GAOC to upgrade the bid to nationals; there are also some people who oppose the idea of OUSA accepting a new bid for a 2021 Junior nationals.
Dec 18, 2020 9:27 AM # 
Thanks @Mike. I'm not sure if a Junior Nationals in Georgia in April would work - it might; it might not. But I do know that if it is not tried we'll never know.

But I read that there are some, presumably in OUSA that oppose the idea of accepting a new bid for 2021. WTF? With all the trouble OUSA has in finding hosts for National events someone would be potentially saying 'No' to a bona fide offer?? Does that mean they don't want the Nationals or NAOC held in 2021 either?
Why would I like to see the SEIS upgraded to the Junior Nats? Probably a bit selfish. I looked at Delta flights from Sarasota to Atlanta for the GNC. They seem to be the cheapest in history. Same probably goes for anywhere in America anytime.
But more important Georgia and Florida have two of the most vibrant and competitive JROTC orienteering programs in the country. They could fill out a Junior Nationals competition very nicely on their own. Throw in NC and MS and it gets bigger. They missed out on their Navy Nationals this year and last. The Junior Nats could be a great carrot to get them back SAFELY to competitive orienteering.
People are sticking needles in other peoples arms based on emergency authorization. Congress is getting together to provide trillions of dollars to people in need based on emergency need. How about OUSA and GAOC getting together and scheduling a National event based on an emergency authorization and the rest of the orienteering community getting behind them in support.
Dec 18, 2020 12:31 PM # 
I don't think any National events should be held in spring. The pandemic is likely not going to be controlled by April, and juniors will be the last to be vaccinated if they are vaccinated at all. Encouraging them to travel from all over the country is not okay.
Dec 18, 2020 1:55 PM # 
Fact is everyone is as much at risk in their home community as they are away. Each person's risk depends on their own personal habits and the habits of those immediately around them.
If there is a reason why juniors will be the last to be vaccinated it is that they are least at risk.
Unlike seniors and masters, juniors have only a short window of opportunity to prove themselves in their age class. It is a shame to deny them opportunity when and if they and their teammates and leaders are willing to undertake their own risk management.
Dec 18, 2020 2:36 PM # 
Fact is that every person that travels from a high COVID area to or through a low COVID one risks taking COVID with them. Fact is that you risk exposing servers and gas station attendants and everyone else you might meet along the way during this non-essential travel. Traveling is very different to being at home where you can limit your interaction with the community much more easily because you are in your own space.

Behavior like this is why the USA is where it is today, which if you haven’t noticed, is a worldwide disgrace. The large amount of circulating disease means a higher risk of disease mutation - what if the spike protein gets a big enough mutation that the vaccines no longer work? That is a genuine possibility that is reduced with every case of COVID that doesn’t happen.

Most juniors I know care more about keeping their community safe than traveling to a competition across the country right now. That’s a very sensible and kind spirited way to view the world, unlike whatever this hot take is.
Dec 18, 2020 3:10 PM # 
I doubt many schools would be able to attend even if there were a junior nationals in the spring.

I applaud COC's difficult decision as it appears to be the best decision based on what we understand about the operating environment and what we are forecasting into the future.
Dec 18, 2020 3:25 PM # 
^^ 100% Agree ^^
Dec 18, 2020 3:26 PM # 
Dec 18, 2020 4:02 PM # 
As a college student that is going to be living on campus this spring, I know that I wouldn't be allowed back to school if I were to leave for something like this. As much as I am committed to this sport, and as much as I would love to compete at a Junior Nationals this year, I cannot leave school for it. And I know that there are many, many others that are in similar positions as I am.
Dec 18, 2020 4:16 PM # 
This is why we can't have nice things.
Dec 18, 2020 4:22 PM # 
Hard to follow your logic here, Gord:

Why would I like to see the SEIS upgraded to the Junior Nats? [...] Georgia and Florida have two of the most vibrant and competitive JROTC orienteering programs in the country. They could fill out a Junior Nationals competition very nicely on their own. Throw in NC and MS and it gets bigger.

Sounds like a description of a Southeast Interscholastics, not a Jr Nats. So why slap a different label on it? And especially when as Bridget noted, juniors from other regions are disallowed from traveling.
Dec 18, 2020 4:28 PM # 
And I am sure OUSA feel (rightly) that they cannot be seen to support interstate travel, which is why they are not supporting alternate bids. I wish people would read and heed CDC guidelines so this whole mess can be over and done with quicker. The more people travel, the longer this whole shit show is going to continue.
Dec 18, 2020 4:34 PM # 
It's quite a stretch to consider the need for an orienteering competition to be an emergency.
Dec 18, 2020 11:48 PM # 
OUSA's position is to evaluate each event on an individual basis as it approaches. We are currently evaluating National Championships approximately 90 days out. It is important that something with the National Champs label is likely to be attended by a National audience. Therefore, it is unlikely that National Champs will be approved to move forward while there are significant quarantine or stay-at-home orders in place across the country. We have, however, loosened our constraints on NREs in general and are allowing for regional ranking events in areas with fewer restrictions and where travel would not be as extensive.
Dec 19, 2020 5:05 AM # 
Given the beginning of deployment of vaccine to the most vulnerable populations, I'd put pretty heavy odds against there being significant travel restrictions by mid April. Although not as strong odds as if the outgoing administration was still in charge... My point being that its awfully early to say that there can't be a championship in mid April; I would go for the more optimistic approach of "go ahead and plan, but we might have to cancel as it gets closer."
Dec 19, 2020 6:36 AM # 
Personally, I don't think OUSA should be encouraging Jr Nationals events where kids and adults are travelling with school groups until the pandemic is much more contained.
Dec 19, 2020 7:30 AM # 
Mike, protecting the old is insufficient:

I am personally connected to two people in their thirties that have had strokes as a result of COVID. I know two people who lost parents in their sixties. Vaccines will not be fully deployed until later summer. We know that the vaccine protects the vaccinated individual, but we do not yet know if it limits transmissibility to others (I suspect yes, but this is a hunch and not evidence based). It is not ethical nor advisable to hold a national champs until we are getting much closer to herd immunity. It’s not sufficient to protect the old, though that is very important.
Dec 21, 2020 4:52 AM # 
We all need something to look forward especially our juniors. Yet canceling another orienteering season will destroy any motivation especially for young.
Dec 21, 2020 5:11 AM # 
Cute answer: so will being dead.

More realistic one: yes, that's alarmist for those directly involved: mortality rates are very low for the young. But the chance of long Covid seem to be high even for the young. Quite apart from the irresponsibility.
Dec 21, 2020 1:15 PM # 
Young people have lots and lots to look forward to. Heck, I'm a white-haired old geezer, and I still have plenty to look forward to. How would I have felt if I didn'tget to orienteer for a year or two when I was a junior? Well, considering I didn't really even get started until I was 22, and it was a slow start at that, I still managed to get motivated and do a whole lot of it.
Dec 21, 2020 1:29 PM # 
By summer, many will have vaccine and many will be already immune by getting it. Outdoor events are still very safe. Orienteering should pivot on this and attract new people!
I would think most parents would much rather have kids be in the woods then in the mall, friends houses or indoor spaces...
Dec 21, 2020 1:49 PM # 
There are loads of ways for orienteering to grow during this without hosting large events that bring together people from all over to mix. Local events, trainings, and semi-permanent courses are just a few ideas.

Personally, my view is that it would be the wrong move to put juniors and/or their parents in the position to make a decision like this. Can it really be considered a championship if a large number of participants are dissuaded from attending?

Young people are less likely to die from this virus. (Although the long-term effects on them are still unclear) But what about our volunteers? Many of them are in high-risk categories. Should we really be asking them to hold an event that is defined as the highest level of risk by the CDC?
Dec 21, 2020 10:56 PM # 
Not too much to add to this. I do think we are learning more about the long-term effects of Covid. So called "long Covid" sounds nasty. My personal opinion ... I don't want it, I don't want my parents to get it, I don't want my kids to get it, I don't want the athletes I coach to get it, I don't want my friends to get it. It seems quite prudent to make short-term sacrifices in order to lower the risks for all of us.

I am on the organizing committee for an event that our ski club was supposed to organize in February. We cancelled. An over-riding theme in our discussions was our responsibility to the community. Inviting a large number of people from outside our region is a non-starter.

There are ways to have very healthy activities, orienteering included, at a local level.
Dec 22, 2020 2:06 AM # 
Outdoor events are still very safe.

that is not the main problem - it's all the travel, etc.

And the risk to individuals is not really the point either - it is the effect on the wider community. Juniors may be at lower risk of serious illness but all the travel etc increases the likelihood of spread to others who are at higher risk.

if you want to motivate local juniors organise local events with appropriate social distancing measures.
Dec 22, 2020 6:35 AM # 
This has been a hard year for so many. And, even those who are doing relatively well are grieving the loss of what we knew / what we expected for this year (and next year) to be.

Is a junior championship that requires travel what our kids, ourselves, and our community needs most right now? What do they need? What do we need?

First... are each of us doing ok? How do you feel? Are you scared, angry, lonely, feeling powerless, frustrated, exhausted, grieving, bored, hopeless, hopeful, inspired, anxious, anxious to get back to what you loved? What do you need?

Are the kids doing ok? Are their families ok? Do their parents have jobs? Is there food on the table and rent/mortgages gettin paid? Are they scared for family members or themselves who need to work in exposed environments? Are people able to get outside, to exercise?

For those that are doing ok and have capacity to give... how are those around you in the orienteering community or beyond? What do they need? What can you give?

And yes... this could be a great time for *local* orienteering. Why do we need to drive an hour for our sport or fly across the country. What can you set up in your neighborhood? In your local forest or park or streets? Don't have a map or forest... what can give the parts of orienteering that you love? The running? The navigation? The challenge? Is there a way to share that joy with others in this moment? To connect to your community (safely) & share this sport? I'm sure Barb, Hammer, Boris, and others have great ideas for how to set up (safe!) experiences that give the joy of orienteering... without the travel.

As for the juniors, yes... I am sad for those who are missing the experiences that I got to have, especially the travel. This is a year for resilience and a year for discovering one's own capacity for leadership or to give. A year for problem solving, a year for taking care of each other, and a year for community. What if they are finding new experiences. New strength in themselves they didn't know they had. Orienteering is all about finding yourself when you ended up somewhere you didn't expect to be, and figuring out what to do next. How can we support our juniors creating new experiences?

What are the juniors already doing to take care of themselves and to support each other? What do they need from the adults in this community?

We should be able to partake in this sport in the US without having to travel hundreds/thousands of miles. How can we use this moment to bring forth a better future? What parts of orienteering are the most important? Being outside in nature, off trail? The challenge of pushing ourselves? The problem solving? The community? How can we find new opportunities to create those experiences? To get to the heart of what really matters? How can we do this near where we live? Can we use orienteering to create connection, even as we are each (safely) alone in the forest?

What are the creative solutions that clubs / individuals are employing to adapt?
Dec 22, 2020 12:43 PM # 
“Orienteering is all about finding yourself when you ended up somewhere you didn't expect to be, and figuring out what to do next.”

I love this.
Dec 22, 2020 1:16 PM # 
Suzanne’s post should get an award for best AP post of the year or perhaps all time.
Dec 22, 2020 2:27 PM # 
Great post Suzanne, thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Dec 22, 2020 4:25 PM # 
It is a very good post but the basic point is wrong.
It is not a matter of local orienteering OR national orienteering. Of course we can do both and both safely.
O-USA put a lot of effort into coming up with Covid safety protocols. I've seen them. I've used them. They work. Yes you can safely have a National event BUT you should do away with one display of results and post them live on-line to everyone's smart phone. You will have to do away with the banquet and the awards ceremony, silent auction and any other thing that draws a crowd. But getting to a spread out start, picking up your map and enjoying the woods that is already a pretty self-isolated affair.
Getting to the event? You can keep yourself and others safe by wearing a mask and adding a shield if you feel like it. I have taken six flights during the pandemic period. I take the advised and required precautions just like everyone else around. I am impressed with the time and effort the airlines are putting into helping us be safe. Same with the car rental companies. Have you seen any reports of spreader events caused by airline flights? I haven't. They do not deserve to be lumped in the same category as frat parties and weddings.
So the Junior Nationals are cancelled and the Nationals are postponed. So be it. I hope the NAOC stays on schedule but if any of you naysayers for the other events show up please excuse me if I can't help muttering 'hypocrite' behind your back.
Dec 22, 2020 5:35 PM # 
@gordhun I think it is quite different to separate between two sets of decisions and what you would view as a "hypocrite": the ones one makes for oneself and there has to only recon with one own's beliefs and set of priorities; and the ones one makes within a group of organizers, trying to balance budgets, responsibility for those one invites, handling the crystal balls of local government, school, park permitting entities, etc. while having to weigh whether they will get the necessary volunteers to handle an event with less offerings, but far more need of volunteer hours and involvement.
Dec 22, 2020 6:24 PM # 
Mike's reason for postponing the Nationals - a reason made locally, on the ground is a good one.
Grand poobahs at O-USA deciding for a local club willing to put in the work to get the local permissions and for the orienteers convinced they can be safe enough in travel to the event that no they can't have sanctioning is not good. It is patronizing.
Over and out.
Dec 22, 2020 6:57 PM # 
Pink Socks:
I thought I explained our club's stance pretty clearly and diplomatically at the beginning. But, sigh, it's 2020.

I'll reiterate the salient point again:

There's just not enough certainty for us to feel like we can make it happen like we wanted.

Remember that the event we're talking about is Junior Nationals, which is a national gathering of groups of students. We're not talking about a local event. This weekend, CascadeOC will be having its first in-person event since February. It's 30 starts Saturday and 30 starts Sunday, one start every four minutes, four volunteers total, plexiglass, sanitizer, contract tracing, etc. That doesn't make us hypocrites. I think we can all agree that the risk of transmitting COVID-19 while orienteering is extremely low. That's not the point.

The point is, we were to host Junior Nationals, and for us, that's way more than just flags in the forest. We have a very large population of juniors up here that are very isolated from the rest of the country's orienteering population. We feel that Junior Nationals is meant to be social. So we have an Athletes' Village with barracks and dormitory-style accommodations. We use dining halls with communal meals. We have social events and mixers. We want the junior orienteers to have an experience beyond the woods.

That's what made our 2012 Junior Nationals such a big success, and our goal for 2020 2021 was to make that even better. There's just not enough certainty for us to feel like we can make it happen like we wanted.

Even if we did strip away everything except the flags in the woods, there's still a huge uncertainty in participation. This isn't a regular National Meet. The success of Junior Nationals depends on school teams and JROTC programs attending. Too many of these teams and programs aren't able to gather locally to practice or compete, so there's no reason to expect them to travel out here. I already mentioned that we're pretty isolated from the rest of the country's orienteering population. It's a big ask to get teams of juniors to Washington state, as we found out in 2012. It takes a lot of extra and advance planning to bring teams out here (eg: more fundraising, significantly longer travel times leading to more missed school days, etc). We're now less than four months away now, and there's just not enough certainty for us to feel like we can make it happen like we wanted.

And then there's the issue of fairness. If you hold a competition, but only a small fraction of the expected participants shows up, you know, because of a pandemic, then how fair is that competition? If CascadeOC was to continue with Junior Nationals, we were assuming the attendance of some local teams-- ones that are currently able to gather and practice, and others who could decide relatively last-minute and show up in a van. We were also assuming the attendance of several individual juniors-- ones whose decisions to come weren't tied to school programs. And that was about it. We want the best orienteers to come, not give out trophies to hollow victors. There's just not enough certainty for us to feel like we can make it happen like we wanted.

And then there's economics, which I didn't bring up in my original post because, at least in my personal view, it's less important than the health & safety of everyone and competitive fairness. The club lost a non-trivial amount of money by postponing from 2020. But at least it was a known quantity. Had we continued with the event in 2021, we were going to lose even more, given the likeliness of a small attendance.

CascadeOC really wanted to make this event happen. We have a bunch of great kids out here that deserve us to host Junior Nationals. But given the circumstances, there really wasn't any debate. We voted unanimously to withdraw the bid. There's just not enough certainty for us to feel like we can make it happen like we wanted.
Dec 22, 2020 8:01 PM # 
Big Thank You to all the OUSA Poobahs, I personally value each one of them and each of their minutes they spend as a volunteer of the federation. It must be especially disheartening to the election committee, trying to find people to run for open positions on the board, to have to explain away worries some may have about future AP animosity should they have to make decisions according to given rules and guidelines. Or by majority consent based on educated discussion, for that matter.
"Hats off" from me to COC's Poobahs, too. We had a JROTC team in MN, who had fundraised a lot, really a lot, for 2020 JNC, only their second competition they would have traveled outside of state, ever, to be able to maybe send 1 small team. At this time they do not foresee being able to come to local events this Spring, let alone even imagine traveling out of state. I can see how difficult planning is for our local club, so easily 48x more complicated for COC.
Dec 23, 2020 2:18 PM # 
gordhun, from today's news regarding exposure on flights:

"There have been at least 1,300 flights that have either landed or taken off in Canada since the start of September with potential COVID-19 exposures on board, according to information provided by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

This includes at least 200 flights during the past two weeks, including five flights from the U.K., where a new strain of the novel coronavirus is spreading rapidly.

It’s not clear how many people may have been exposed to the virus on board these flights, and whether all of the passengers were travelling for essential reasons, but public health experts are warning that the urge to be physically close to the people we care about most this holiday season could end up causing more harm than good."
Dec 23, 2020 6:10 PM # 
To date all cancelled or postponed National Championship events have been cancelled by the hosting club, not by OUSA. OUSA did cancel NREs early in the pandemic until we had investigated the risks and put our COVID mitigation policies in place. At this time, sanctioned non-Championship events are being allowed to move forward should the hosting club choose. As stated earlier, however, it is likely that OUSA will not allow Championship events to move forward as long as quarantine orders are in effect across the country. We did just approve a bid for the Trail-O Champs in May with an understanding that this will be revisited approximately 60 days prior to the event.

We had empty board seats this year, including one that was vacant until this week. If you don't like how the Poohbahs run things, you could easily have become a Poohbah.
Dec 23, 2020 7:38 PM # 
Thanks to everyone making these difficult decisions!!!
Dec 23, 2020 9:26 PM # 
I've been very impressed with OUSA's handling of the pandemic so far. The difficult decisions so far have seemed well-reasoned and well-timed. I think the budgeting process has been good as well, planning for the decreased revenues as a result of the pandemic, but not completely shutting down all activity. Thanks to the board for continued steady leadership during a very difficult time!!
Dec 24, 2020 12:03 AM # 
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, everyone. Speaking for myself, I feel the tension between 1) how hard it is to focus training when there's no "goal" race in sight and 2) how important it is from a policy level to make wise decisions. What we might want personally isn't always a good organizational policy.

I don't think it is fair to hold a national championship while there are travel restrictions in place. I appreciate that the Board is considering national events on a case-by-case basis. Clubs have an important voice in this process

I've been thinking about the same point Suzanne raised: how do we create local opportunities to keep ourselves motivated to continue to train? When schedules are unpredictable, what's that mark on the calendar that helps us keep going?

(Cue Clare to bring up the Winter Training Challenge).
Dec 24, 2020 12:21 AM # 
Winter Training Challenge is a peer-to-peer fundraising effort set up by the Poobahs for all OUSA members to take advantage of. It runs from December 1st through February 28th. Setting up your own fundraising page is simple and instructions and details can be found here:
Dec 24, 2020 12:35 AM # 
Or cue Clinton. Thanks!
Dec 26, 2020 4:33 PM # 
Is a Poobah like a Pooh Bear? If so, I'm all for 'em.
Dec 26, 2020 7:43 PM # 
Having not yet met all my fellow Poohbahs in the flesh, I can only say that it seems almost certain they are all mammals capable of walking erect supported on their two rear limbs. So yes, in the grand scheme of things, vastly more like Pooh Bear than unlike.
Dec 27, 2020 12:45 AM # 
Was that my typo that came out poo bah? Of course I meant pooh bears in the most respectful way. Sorry.
Dec 27, 2020 12:52 AM # 
Well, I had to look this up. The word "poobah" comes from the name of the character Pooh-Bah in Gilbert & Sullivan's The Mikado.
Dec 27, 2020 1:30 AM # 
Interesting. I thought it originated in The Flintstones (cartoon), as the leader of Fred's lodge: the Grand Poo-Bah.

(cue posts about the live action version having been filmed at Vasquez Rocks...)
Dec 27, 2020 4:57 PM # 
I knew all about poo-bahs because my parents were opera nuts and Dad, who didn't think too highly of the CEO of his company, referred to him as the Grand Poo-Bah.
Dec 28, 2020 4:59 PM # 
Jeopardy clue of the day, Dec 28 (sometimes it matches what's broadcast on the syndicated show, sometimes it doesn't; but they post a clue five days per week).
Dec 28, 2020 8:28 PM # 
How timely!
Dec 28, 2020 11:00 PM # 
I look at the clues every day, and was laughing as I showed it to GlenT, saying "bet you know this answer."
Dec 29, 2020 5:16 AM # 
Is the Clue of the Day always a Final Jeopardy clue (as it was for the show broadcast yesterday)?
Dec 29, 2020 1:28 PM # 
Typically yes, it's the Final Jeopardy clue. But as I said, sometimes the syndication channels mix shows up so they don't match what the NYT publishes (it's also in the print edition, I've been told).
Dec 29, 2020 5:02 PM # 
What It's Like to Believe Everything the Media Tells You

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