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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Indoor Football League cancels 2020 season, but Spokane Shock hold out hope

UPDATED: Mon., April 13, 2020

Spokane Shock owner Sam Adams announced the return of the team at a press conference at the Spokane Arena on Nov. 1, 2019. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Spokane Shock owner Sam Adams announced the return of the team at a press conference at the Spokane Arena on Nov. 1, 2019. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

Considering the recent cancellations and postponements of professional leagues across the country, Monday’s news wasn’t a shock to Spokane’s reborn indoor football franchise.

The Indoor Football League announced the end of the 2020 season amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, three weeks after the Spokane Shock were scheduled to open their season.

The Shock, who completed preseason training camp in early March, hoped to resume their season in May, but the league officially ended the season before the Shock played a single down “due to the many unknowns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and the lack of definitive information as to when states will begin to lift stay-home mandates and again allow large gatherings such as sporting events,” the league said.

Other factors that played into the IFL’s decision included scheduling difficulties and the amount of time players needed to regain playing form after a lack of training due to social distance mandates.

IFL officials announced a return in 2021 with an extended 16-game regular season, but new Shock owner Sam Adams foresees games being played sooner.

Adams, a former defensive tackle for the Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens, went as far as “guaranteeing” Shock games in 2020.

“We’re sitting back and waiting on the governor to lift (the social distancing order),” Adams said. “It’s gotta happen sometime, and when it does we’re going to be ready to go and give Spokane the outlet it deserves. I can see us getting back to it June, July or September if the (coronavius) can continue to level off and it’s deemed safe.”

Several Shock players and staff members elected to stay in Spokane after the team halted practices late last month, hoping to be ready when Gov. Jay Inslee lifted his “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order.

Shock coach Billy Back, who moved his young family to Spokane from Greensboro, North Carolina, is among the group who Adams said will continue to work toward a successful campaign as the team sits in limbo.

The Shock, who rebranded as the Spokane Empire in 2016 under former ownership before a two-year hiatus, boast a roster that includes several former Southeastern Conference and Pac-12 standouts, including former Alabama starting quarterback Blake Sims and ex-Washington State receiver Tavares Martin Jr.

The franchise opened its office in downtown Spokane earlier this year and unveiled its new blue and orange turf at its home venue, the Spokane Arena.

Adams said the franchise will use this time to strategize and better improve the Shock product before its return season can begin.

“Once we’re back, we’re taking on all comers,” Adams said. “We’re the best Indoor Football League team in the country.”

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