Oregon Governor Kate Brown doubled down on her decision to shut out the men’s and women’s basketball teams at University of Portland and Portland State. She continues to refuse to grant either Division-I university the same exemption she gave to Oregon and Oregon State weeks ago.
A spokesperson for Gov. Brown’s office, said on Tuesday, “Here is where Governor Brown’s focus is: Getting kids back in schools who haven’t been in a classroom since last spring. Finding a way for families to safely visit the loved ones in long term care facilities they haven’t seen since early March. Making sure Oregonians who lost everything to wildfires have a warm place to call home before winter. Bringing case counts under control so that we can keep businesses open.”
All very important things. All deserving of focus and attention. Also, all emotionally loaded. It’s a smokescreen really. I also support kids being safely in schools and loved ones being welcome and safe in care facilities and I support wildfire recovery plans. Doing those things shouldn’t prohibit the Pilots and Vikings from being held to the same COVID-19 standards as the Ducks and Beavers.
A few thoughts:
♦ When Gov. Brown granted Oregon and OSU an exemption last month, I believe she believed she was clearing the way for the Pac-12 football programs to practice and eventually play. I’m beginning to think that her office didn’t consider that the Beavers and Ducks men’s and women’s basketball programs would seize the opportunity and start practicing under the blanket of that exemption. It’s possible our governor didn’t realize that her broad exemption technically extended to ALL intercollegiate athletics programs in Eugene and Corvallis. I also don’t blame those other programs for seeing that and slipping in under the football exemption.
♦ UP and PSU are practicing basketball. They’re running drills daily, shooting and performing “five on zero” work. It’s allowed. The exemption they’re seeking would allow them to escalate to full-contact practices. It seems to me that if the aim really is to keep people safe, the best way to do that is to grant the exemption and force UP and PSU to test its athletes daily like the two other Division I universities in our state.
♦ PSU has been quiet. The prevailing notion is that there’s some fear at Portland State that speaking out publicly against the governor’s stubborn position on this might cost the state-funded university some badly needed dollars. Stephen Percy, the PSU president, has been silent. Gagged? Or just strategically mum? Same to me. A question: Would our elected governor really get vindictive and pull state funding from PSU if it publicly cries foul here? If so, it will be noticed.
♦ The narrative on Gov. Kate Brown’s tenure is that she is only focused on what she perceives to help her politically and not what needs to be done to address an issue for everyone. I’ve watched this basketball debacle play out and I’m left thinking that the