At what point did a hobby become more important than education?  In the past three months I have found myself asking that question more and more. I enjoy hockey just as much as the next person, but the fact is, it’s a game. Despite this, international players are being allowed to return to the Red Wings, and to UNB’s Reds, while international students are basically being told to stay home. So the fact that this little game has been prioritized, not only over people’s health and safety, but also over people’s education? It’s deplorable.

There’s still a pandemic going on. So when the borders are closed to all but essential traffic because of the way that other countries (*cough* America *cough*) are handling COVID-19, I think it’s pretty self-explanatory that it’s because the situation is still serious. The debate is really over whether or not hockey is an essential service. Are you kidding? Like are you actually kidding? Sports are in no way worth people’s lives. 

The fact that wage workers are being forced to deal with additional risk to staff so-called “bubbles” for hockey players and their families in the NHL disgusts me. Hockey, while fun to have playing in the background while you have a beer at a jersey party, is not an essential service. The season should have been cancelled. Hotel employees and sanitation staff aren’t expendable. A sports title is. Professional sports are in no way essential, and wage workers’ lives do not exist to prop up the income of team owners and league investors.

So having established that even having professional hockey players travelling into Canada is not worth the risk to public health, let’s talk about our local situation. The UNB Reds Men’s Hockey Team is impressive, there’s no denying it– almost ten years of national titles, let alone AUS titles. Still, they’re a university team. The argument for financial/economic stimulus that can be made for the NHL doesn’t extend to them. 

But the Red Wings? They’re a Junior A Team. Not QMJHL, not even a prospect team. In summary, they’re small-time. So when the pros don’t have solid footing for criss-crossing borders, where’s the reasoning for two small-town hockey teams?

I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me, but when I have friends who are stuck overseas and couldn’t come back to study at university because of the province’s COVID restrictions, partnered with lack of support from the university, it rubs me the wrong way to think that other people were welcomed back just because they could pass a puck around. 

I personally believe that education is more important than recreation, especially during a pandemic. 

If the province and the university really wanted to be cautious, why not bring back people who are going to be low-risk? I’m just saying, if Major League Baseball is any indication, sports players are going to be at risk just by the nature of sports: close-contact, bodily fluids, shared spaces, etc. But students? A two week isolation to be safe and they should be good to go. 

I don’t know how else to explain this except to say it makes me profoundly angry that my tuition money and my tax dollars are paying for people to be able to come back to New Brunswick to play a stupid game, while university students who are actually trying to get an education are being barred, discouraged, and forgotten.