Posts Tagged ‘Canada’
North Scarborough Soccer Club. Its website says it’s Where Soccer Lives. But right now, it’s Where Soccer Dies. At least in the 13-and-under division.
That’s because referees, since July 12, have refused to work its matches, and because other teams in its York Region Soccer Association refuse to play it. All because some parent flashed a gun when he accosted a referee after a game to register his slight displeasure at the way the game was called.
Note: North Scarborough is in Canada, so that’s why they’re all weenies just because some guy brandished a gun while going apeshit on a referee after a game. Hey, in Tennessee, that action has the official approval of the state legislature!
The North Scarborough folks say no gun was flashed, but no matter. The folks in Salinas, Calif., can tell you that once your neighborhood gets a reputation as a dangerous place, teams suddenly remember game day was the day they had already scheduled to get their hair washed.
From the Toronto Globe and Mail:
The incident again raises the issue of abuse against officials in children’s sports, a matter that Hockey Canada has had to deal with in the past. However, firearms-related offences are almost unheard of at this level of sports.
“It’s incredibly isolated,” said Mr. Green, the YSRA secretary. “We don’t run into a lot of alleged gunplay at soccer games generally. We’ve certainly dealt with a reasonable number of alleged referee assaults, whether they be verbal assault or pushing/shoving/the odd punch in the face or whatever the case may be, that has happened, and we deal with it accordingly under the jurisdiction of wherever the discipline needs to be heard.”
It’s reassuring that the youth soccer association is confident it doesn’t run into a lot of alleged gunplay at soccer games generally. Then again, it doesn’t run a league in Tennessee.
My Twitter was a-blowin’ up today over a soccer league that is contributing to what is often called the pussification of sports by declaring any team that wins by five or more goals has won by too much, and therefore has officially lost. From what I saw on the ol’ Twitter, the edict from the Gloucester Dragons Recreational Soccer League is infecting America with sports communism, Trotsky and Lenin and no-score leagues and pitch counts and moms as coaches. (No matter that this league is in Canada — close enough!)
When the he-man world discovers the latest threat to youth sports as they should be — a combination of yelling, Social Darwinism and the occasional wedgie — the Internet pattern goes like this:
1. Someone writes a story, full of quotes from perturbed parents and tight-assed sounding league officials. In this example, the National Post in Toronto.
Kevin’s father, Bruce Cappon, called the rule ludicrous.
“I couldn’t find anywhere in the world, even in a communist country, where that rule is enforced,” he said.
Mr. Cappon said the organization is trying to “reinvent the wheel” by fostering a non-competitive environment. The league has 3,000 children enrolled ranging in age from four to 18 years old.
“Everybody wants a close game, nobody wants blowouts, but we don’t want to go by those farcical rules that they come up with,” he said. “Heaven forbid when these kids get into the real world. They won’t be prepared to deal with the competition out there.”
Club director Sean Cale said he is disappointed a few parents are making the new soccer rule overshadow the community involvement and organizing the Gloucester club does.
“The registration fee, regardless of the sport, does not give a parent the right to insult or belittle the organization,” he said. “It gives you a uniform, it gives you a team.”
Mr. Cale said the league’s 12-person board of directors is not trying to take the fun out of the game, they are simply trying to make it fair. The new rule, suggested by “involved parents,” is a temporary measure that will be replaced by a pre-season skill assessment to make fair teams.
2. The story gets posted on the likes of Fark and Deadspin, followed by lots of snarky comments, some of which rail about pussification, and some of which just make smart-aleck jokes.
3. The presence of the story on the likes of Fark and Deadspin gets people a-Twitterin’.
4. That’s where I come in to float above it all and tell you what to REALLY think.
So here we are at step No. 4.
As usual, what the Gloucester Dragons league did was a well-meaning combination of thoughtful and stupid. As the league name says, it’s a recreational league, i.e., for fun. There’s no better way to drive away players who are there for the fun of it by putting them on a team that consistently gets their ass kicked. Hey, we’re playing for fun, but we’re still keeping score, and it’s not a lot of fun to get your ass kicked.
The league has the right idea by having a tryout camp to try to ensure teams are equal. But to tell teams that, in the interim, winning by a lot means that they’ll actually lose — it’s not communism, but it is dumb. It’s insulting to have teams fart around for the sake of increasing the margin to six. There are a lot of ways to stop a blowout: slaughter rule (ending the game when the margin is too high), having the leading team play with fewer players, a running clock. Not telling the winning team they’ll actually lose.
If having a blowout is that worrisome, just don’t keep score. As you can see by the National Post story, the whole idea of blowout prevention came from parents. The great upset about blowout prevention is coming from parents. Well, some kids, too. But like in my 7-year-old son’s no-score baseball league, if the kids want to keep track, that’s fine. The reason for no-score leagues is so parents won’t lose their shit over a game.
It’s not pussification. It’s parent pacification.
A survey of horrid sports parent behavior confirms a point of American pride. Yet it also portends a threat to it from a country already taking our tech support jobs and, apparently with them, our dominance at yelling “fuck you” at a referee, especially after special dialect training.
The Reuters poll asked 23,351 adults in 22 countries if a) they had even been to a kids’ sporting events and b) if they had even seen parents become verbally or physically abusive toward coaches or officials. (Left unasked was how many of those adults were pedos cruising the sidelines.) The poll found 37% of adults attended children’s sporting events, and the most abusive nation was:
U.S.A! U.S.A! U.S.A.!
Sixty percent of the adults who attended kids’ sporting events in the United States agreed with the statement that they had seen physical and verbal abuse at those games. And I know you share my reaction: only 60 percent?
And who is profanely nipping at America’s heels? India!
Can you believe 59 percent of adults in India said they witnessed physical and verbal abuse at coaches and referees? First India takes our jobs, and now it takes our awful spectating habits? So when do you start serving your kids shitty hot dogs and Capri-Sun after games, India?
Italy (55 percent), Argentina (54 percent), Australia (53 percent) and Canada (5o percent) are also coming close to the United States, as well.
What this means, my fellow Americans, is that if we want to keep our dominance in something, for once, it’s time to get serious. I mean, fucking serious, or I’ll kick your fucking ass.
If we as a nation want to keep our title of Craziest Sports Parents, we have to step up our games. Get more obscene! Punch the coach! Slap the ump! Beat your children! What are you, a fucking pansy? You want fucking INDIA to be crazier than us? Things have gotten so bad in this country, we’re going to start OUTSOURCING throwing shit at the coach?
That’s bad enough, but if this keeps up, someday we’re going to be out-crazied by Canada. Canada! But Canadians are so polite! You’re going to let yourself be outcrazied by someone who yells, “Stick that call up your ass! Please?”
Over the years, America has lost a lot that has made her great. Don’t lose her ability to make her children shamed with embarrassment on the field of play.
With all the alleged gnashing of teeth and rending of sweaters in Canada over its Olympic hockey team’s 5-3 loss to the United States on home ice in Vancouver Sunday night, I would like to take you back to a post of mine from August 2009 about a study showing that Canadian kids care less and less about the presumed national sport.
To be so self-referential I’m going to get inside my own mind like John Malkovich in “Being John Malkovich,” here is what I wrote earlier about Canadian youth and their relationship with hockey. The survey, by University of Lethbridge (Alberta) sociology professor Reginald Bibby, was done in the context of the possibility of southern Ontario becoming the seventh Canadian market for the National Hockey League.
According to Bibby’s survey of 5,500 Canadian teens, the interest in the NHL fell to 35 percent in 2008 from 45 percent in 1992. The decline in Ontario was 40 to 28, with only 20 percent of Toronto teens following the league. … Of those teens whose parents, and themselves, were born in Canada, 40 percent followed the NHL. Of those teens who were born (and whose parents were born) outside of Canada, only 20 percent were interested in the NHL. Those non-native born teens were mostly likely to follow the NBA (31 percent) and soccer (30 percent).
Blake Lambert of the Faster Times cited Bibby’s research in creating his own reaction to Canada’s Olympic loss: “Canada Loses in Hockey. So What?”
In my corner of downtown Toronto, which is home to immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, I have yet to see a single child play street hockey. At the middle school up the street, basketball and soccer are fashionable; cricket is even a summertime pursuit at a park northeast of my home.
In the Toronto area — not just the city, but the suburbs, too — 45.7 percent of all residents are foreign-born as of the 2007 Canadian census, up from 43.7 percent five years previously. In Vancouver, where fans are presumably feeling the pain a little more because the last American goal was scored by Vancouver Canuck Ryan Kesler, 39.6 percent of all residents are foreign-born. English is the primary household language of 54.1 percent of Canadians, while the other official language, French, is at only 1.2 percent. Outdistancing the francophones are Chinese (all dialects), 8.1 percent, Italian, 3.7 percent, and Punjabi, 2.6 percent.
A Punjabi sports show, based in Vancouver.
In the whole of Canada, 20 percent — one out of five — residents was born somewhere other than under the Maple Leaf flag. The government itself says Canada’s growth is almost wholly reliant on immigration. By comparison, the United States has a foreign-born population of 12.6 percent.
Certainly it would be ridiculous to dismiss out-of-hand the agony many Canadians feel over their loss to the United States. However, by the numbers, it looks like hockey in Canada is going to evolve culturally like basketball in my native Indiana.
The sport will always be a strong part of the culture. But as time goes on, as the population changes, and as children are given more choices for sports and activities than their forebears, the intensity of the pain of having a loser in “our” game will be lesser for youth than it is for middle-agers, who remember the glory days when a single sport was everything.
Canadians are no more left-handed than Americans. Yet in Canada, the New York Times notes, 60 to 70 percent of hockey sticks sold are left-handed, and the same percentage sold in the United States are right-handed.
The Canadian journalist and author Bruce Dowbiggin noted the Canadian-American handedness split in his 2001 book, “The Stick: A History, a Celebration, an Elegy.” On Dowbiggin’s Web site, a reader named Kent Mayhew suggested the difference may have to do with how old a player is when he first picks up a hockey stick.
“The top hand on a hockey stick has to be able to handle the torques of a stick while the bottom hand just has to handle the weight with no torques,” he wrote. He theorized that American children, who tend to take up hockey when they are older and bigger, can afford to put the stronger hand, generally the right, on the lower part of the shaft for more precision.
Even Canada’s conservative prime minister, Stephen Harper, shoots lefty.
However, Americans have another argument for why their way is better — because having the dominant hand on top makes for better control and stick-handling. Among those promoting that view — U.S. Olympic women’s hockey coach Mark Johnson, as in the leading scorer of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team that drained the piss out of the Evil Empire. Right-handed! Right-handed! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!
Do you believe in right-handed miracles? YES!
The Times story notes that Europeans, including the Russians, tend to shoot left-handed. That explains why they are so comfortable with left-wing, Communistic notions like national health care, gay marriage and speaking French, while America is more comfortable with KICKING YOUR ASS!
The beauty of having children is that they can lecture you like you’re a dumbass. Like how my 12-year-old son the other night, for his science class, had to interview numerous people about whether their habits were Earth-friendly, as if I needed someone who sucks power through a garden hose with his Xbox giving me an implied guilt trip because I have the temerity to drive my car a whopping four miles a day, round-trip, to get to my mass-transit train that takes me to work so I can afford to pay his electric bill.
Another 12-year-old boy, Miller Donnelly of Sudbury, Ont., has taken child harangues to the older generation to a new level, or should I say the 266,000-odd YouTube viewers (and counting) have done so with “The Magic Hockey Helmet,” which got a recent push from young Miller’s interview with ParentDish. “The Magic Hockey Helmet” is Donnelly, when he was 9, talking in full Canadian accent about how aboot the time he puts on a hawkey helmet, he magically turns into a 20-year-old (minus-6.67 Celsius), with people screaming and cursing at him.
Listen, kid, I know full well how to act at a game without your cute little spiel. By the way, I must say, if you’re playing like a 20-year-old, it’s probably because you handle the puck like a major junior with multiple undiagnosed concussions! Holy fucking shit, kid! You’re like a convenience store — no checks! JUST PASS THE PUCK ALREADY, ASSHOLE! MOUNT RUSHMORE CALLED — THEY SAID THEY NEED YOU TO GIVE BACK THE FUCKING STONE YOU CALL YOUR HANDS!!!!!!
I mean, really, where do these kids get off telling adults how to behave?
In Chilliwack, B.C., the good-game handshake/high five is gone, gone, gone, will be gone so long, will be gone gone gone so long, thanks to H1N1.
Just in case you don’t get references to early 1980s Canadian bands, or have never seen SCTV.
From the Chilliwack Times:
Parents of kids that play soccer shouldn’t be offended if handshaking is eschewed for the rest of the season.
Bruce Davies of Chilliwack Football Club recently sent out an advisory to coaches, managers, referees, players and parents about a new “end of game procedure” being implemented because of H1N1.
All Chilliwack FC teams have been told to implement the new procedure immediately that includes: offering three cheers to the opposing team; turning and applauding the opposing team and referee; and handshaking between coaches and referees.
It’s not just Chilliwack — if it hasn’t happened yet, extra precaution in youth sports will come to Boston, Chicago, Kansas, Europe, Asia or any other place that might or might not have had a big-haired band cop the name of its locality.
With the swine flu growing like a prize pig, precautions against any kind of unnecessary contact is under way to prevent the spread of the disease and to prevent the mass cancellation of events that took place in many places last spring, when H1N1 first emerged. Though in some places, it’s already been too late.
I feel like I’m in a bit of quandary, though, when I start coaching my daughter’s fifth- and sixth-grade coed basketball team in a few weeks. Even if there’s no post-game handshake/high-five, everyone is going to be sharing and touching the same ball. Is there a Purell product especially made for rubbing all over basketballs? Or maybe I should have everyone play while wearing latex gloves.
When NHL player Sheldon Kennedy in 1996 came forward to say he was sexually abused by his Canadian junior hockey coach, Graham James, there was speculation that at least one other professional player had been victimized. When James in 1997 was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for his crimes, he was convicted for abusing Kennedy and “one unnamed junior hockey player.”
With his new book, retired 16-year veteran Theoron Fleury confirms that player was him.
Retired hockey star Theoren Fleury has at long last confirmed that he was sexually abused by his junior coach, Graham James, a trauma he says drove him to alcohol, drugs and promiscuity throughout his otherwise impressive 16-year NHL career. “The direct result of my being abused was that I became a f—ing raging, alcoholic lunatic,” he writes in Playing with Fire, an autobiography to be released this week, and provided in advance to Maclean’s. “[James] destroyed my belief system. The most influential adult in my life at the time was telling me that what I thought was wrong was right.
“I no longer had faith in myself or my own judgment. And when you come down to it, that’s all a person has. Once it’s gone, how do you get it back?”
It is an account the hockey world has long waited to hear, as Fleury’s career had been one of the most spectacularly troubled in NHL history. For years, the spark-plug forward has stone-walled questions about his time with James, even as his violent outbursts on the ice and binges off it pointed to something terrible in his past. Until the book, former Boston Bruin Sheldon Kennedy had been the only player to go public about being abused by James. He was hailed as a hero for coming forward, and said at the time one other NHL player had been abused. He did not name the player, and while speculation quickly enveloped Fleury, it died off when it became clear the player had no intention of addressing the issue.
In his book, however, Fleury lifts the lid on the entire harrowing tale, beginning when the Manitoba coach recruited him at 13 from his minor hockey team in Russell, Man., to play junior in Winnipeg. “Graham was on me once or twice a week for the next two years,” Fleury writes of the assaults, whose memories remain vivid to him. “An absolute nightmare, every day of my life.” James required him to sleep two nights a week at the coach’s house, rather than with the woman with whom he’d been billetted. He tried to fight off the coach at first, wrapping himself in blankets each night and pretending to sleep as James attempted to masturbate him and give him oral sex. But the fear of James’s advances left him sleepless, and exhaustion broke him down, he writes; so too did James’s frequent warnings that, without his coach’s support, he stood little chance of playing professional hockey.
Like Kennedy, Fleury was a young boy from a troubled home who was completely tossed into the whirlwind life of junior hockey without any parental figure back home to guide him. And like Kennedy, that abuse sent Fleury down a road of alcohol and drug abuse. Fleury went from toast of the town as the fiery little guy who lead Calgary to its only Stanley Cup title in 1988 to burning through $50 million in drugs, strippers and whores by the time he retired.
Since Kennedy’s public accusation of James, Canadian junior hockey coaches’ image has become the equivalent of the American Catholic priest — an all-powerful figure, particularly for troubled boys, who used that power to commit unspeakable acts that finally could be unspoken no more. Like the good Catholic priest, the good Canadian junior hockey coach is unfairly under more suspicion because of sins committed by others. No matter, though. The lesson, as always, is that no parent can blindly turn their child over to another adult authority with the message that you do what that person says — and we won’t believe a bad word you say.
After all, James hasn’t been the only case where a Canadian junior hockey coach has gone to trial over sexual crimes. In November 2008, an Ontario court acquitted former junior coach and player agent David Frost of sexual exploitation of minors, but the stories told of Frost-led sexcapades involving players led the judge in the case to call such goings-on at the junior level “a dark and very unhealthy side of hockey.”
Hopefully the book and the admission will set Fleury pack on the right path. As Kennedy could tell him, given some of his own slip-ups between 1996 and now, it won’t be easy.
By the way, what of James? He hasn’t commented on Fleury’s accusation. Last anyone heard, aAfter prison he left Canada for Europe — where he coached youth hockey. The Calgary Sun reports that James is now believed to be living outside of Montreal. It also said that after his conviction, James told the paper, when it asked if there were any more victims, that he “loved many people.”
Native Ontarian Jack Kent Cooke, who brought the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings to life in the 1960s, thought he would have a strong fan base because of the estimated 500,000 Canadians who lived in southern California. When the Kings continued to struggle at the gate in the 1970s, Cooke groused those Canadians moved to Los Angeles “because they obviously wanted to get away from hockey.”
Times have changed. Not that Canadians in Los Angeles are more into hockey. It’s that Canadians in Canada are less into hockey.
Yes, a shocking development from the Great White North. According to a study from a Canadian professor, young Canucks are losing interest in the NHL. What’s next, Canadian teens turning up their noses at poutine and backbacon?
Poutine: the answer to the question, why does Canada need universal health care?
The study, by University of Lethbridge (Alberta) sociology professor Reginald Bibby, actually looked at Canadians teens’ interest in all pro sports, and finds it waning in a big way because of three factors: an enormous explosion in the number of entertaiment opportunities, a growing number of teens whose families emigrated to Canada from non-hockey playing regions, and the ineptitude of the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Really, he said that about the Leafs, who since their 1967 Stanley Cup victory have had the resources of the New York Yankees and the management acumen of the Los Angeles Clippers.)
The results for hockey would have Canadian chauvinist and sartorial disaster area Don Cherry rolling over in his grave, if the coach-turned-broadcaster were dead.
Don Cherry still thinks Russian hockey sucks.
According to Bibby’s survey of 5,500 Canadian teens, the interest in the NHL fell to 35 percent in 2008 from 45 percent in 1992. The decline in Ontario was 40 to 28, with only 20 percent of Toronto teens following the league. (Thus, the effect of the Leafs.) Of those teens whose parents, and themselves, were born in Canada, 40 percent followed the NHL. Of those teens who were born (and whose parents were born) outside of Canada, only 20 percent were interested in the NHL. Those non-native born teens were mostly likely to follow the NBA (31 percent) and soccer (30 percent). Programs such as Punjabi Sports have popped up in Canada to sate recent immigrants’ taste for coverage of such sports as kabaddi.
The effort under way by Jim Balsillie, founder of Research in Motion, the makers of the Blackberry, to get a seventh NHL team in Canada is based on the idea that southern Ontario, his chosen locale, is full of hockey fans who would enthusiastically support the league. Bibby has a separate take: “These findings suggest the NHL needs to add teams in Canada in order that more Canadians – starting with young people – will fall in love with hockey.” (Emphasis is Bibby’s.)
This survey is interesting to me as a native Hoosier, what with Indiana rightly considered a place where basketball is practically in the DNA. Of couse, Indiana, whether it likes it or not, is subject to the same cultural trends as Canada, except that it’s the Indiana Pacers and Indiana University men’s basketball sucking instead of the Leafs.
In 2000, I drove my old high school buddy Mike Penn around Indiana as he reported a story for the Chicago Tribune about Indiana basketball tourism. One of the messages we got loud and clear was that Indiana high school basketball wasn’t what it used to be, and not just because the Indiana High School Athletic Association instituted class basketball in 1997.
In Anderson, the problem was that the demise of the auto industry had severed the connection between town and team, with the next generation no longer imbued in the necessity (or even around) to of fill a 9,000-seat gym, the nation’s second largest. (New Castle, Ind., is first, with 9,200 seats.) The coach said that every time he read the obituaries, there went another season-ticket holder.
In Huntingburg, Ind., a town of 5,500 with a 7,000-seat gym, a local sportswriter said the problem started with “girls’ basketball.” Beyond the crass sexism, his remark spoke to the fact that Indiana baskeball became big because it took hold in small, farm towns with nothing else to do. Once schools offered other sports and activities (heck, once cable television arrived), no longer was everything focused on boys’ basketball.
I would suspect that if Reginald Bibby polled the teens of Indiana, he might get similar results. A generation is growing up football fans, thanks to Peyton Manning, whose influence is so great he even has a children’s hospital named after him. High school basketball used to be a big deal only in Indiana, but now that so many are trying to track the top fifth-grader that someday might play for My Old U., it’s a bigger deal everywhere.
Plus, Indiana, for the first time since the Ku Klux Klan pulled the strings in the governor’s office in the 1920s (in an age where the Klan’s political influence was powerful nationwide), has had a major wave of immigration. More than 5,000 (and growing) Burmese refugees live in Fort Wayne, the highest concentration of such a population anywhere in the United States. Enough Latino immigrants have come to the state for a Mexican consulate to open in Indianapolis. Thanks to meatpacking operations and other industrial jobs, small cities like Logansport went from zero Hispanics in 1990 to having them represent more than 10 percent of the population 10 years later.
I’ve often wondered: would those new arrivals get involved in the basketball culture? Given this Canadian study, the answer appears to be, not likely.
The defendant, his attorneys and his family are certainly breathing a sigh of relief that the teenager convicted on manslaughter charges for killing a rugby opponent will not see a day in jail. Very likely, so are the New York Islanders.
The now 18-year-old defendant, 16 at the time of crime, got sentenced in Ontario to one year’s probation, 100 hours of community service and anger management counseling for the 2007 incident, in which he picked up Manny Castillo, 15, and slammed him on his head, pinching his spinal cord. Castillo died at a hospital a few days later. The sentence was what the attorney for the defense (or in Canada, the defence) had requested. From CTV:
The judge determined [the defendant] “did not set out to commit a crime” but that his actions were the result of his “highly competitive instincts.”
“The tragic consequences went far beyond what could have been expected,” he said.
“In some cases, accountability is largely achieved by guilt and this is one of those cases,” he added. “I held him accountable when I found him guilty of manslaughter. It recognizes the harm done.”
Castillo’s family, in their victim’s statement, detailed how their lives have gone downhill since Manny’s death. His father said his wife and younger son cry themselves through sleepless nights, and that they can no longer celebrate special events. The only light is that five people have survived thanks to Manny’s organs.
Manuel Castillo did not comment on the sentence. But the Mexican immigrant took aim at Canada’s national sport outside the courtroom. He blamed hockey’s culture of fighting after the whistle for giving the defendant, an Ontario Hockey League major junior player, the idea that going after his son was OK. From the Toronto Star:
“This was not a hockey or rugby incident,” [Manuel Castillo] said outside of the courthouse. “It’s about some hockey coaches who don’t know how to teach kids.”
The defendant has never been identified, per Canada’s juvenile justice laws. But as I mentioned in previous posts about this case, it’s very easy to find the player’s name (and that the Islanders drafted him). Perhaps the judge is right that two or three years in custody, which the prosecution sought, would not do anyone any good. But prepare to barf in a few years if this player makes it to the NHL, and a gauzy story about him overcoming hardships airs during one of his games.