You know what the beauty is of being in the position the Ottawa Senators enjoy in this city?
The Sens won't have to do one bit of butt-covering over their latest off-ice Adventures in Amateur Hour. That would be the revelation that proceeds from a charity raffle organized by the players' spouses were routed to an anti-abortion group that, according to CBC.ca's Heather Mallick, not a registered charity with Revenue Canada. The taxman tends to take a dim view of that.
(UPDATE: This seems to be in dispute.)
The Sens do a ton of good in the community, but as Mallick noted, fans ended up unwittingly donating to a cause that they might not support. Rule No. 1 of philanthropy: People should know what they're donating to. That didn't happen here.
This isn't about abortion. It's about being honest and doing your homework so you don't look like a bush-league operation and undermine your good works.
The Senators tapped into the goodwill they've built across 15 years to encourage people, in the spirit of the season, to donate on the pretense the Sens Foundation would in turn patronize a more appropriate charity (legit or not, a group that engages in divisive anti-women politics, is probably not one they should touch with a 10-foot hockey stick).
They failed to do due diligence (i.e., Google), and ended up with egg on their face when it was revealed that the anti-abortion group, according to Mallick, a former Globe & Mail columnist, is funded by a local church that is not only "anti-abortion but anti-birth control."
Good question that won't be asked: Odds are, almost all of the women who participated in this charitable effort have used some form of birth control. So reproductive rights are fine and dandy for the spouses of million-dollar-a-year athletes, but it's T.S. for less priviliged women?
The Senators organization has also supported the women's hockey program at Carleton and sponsored last year's CIS championship which the Ottawa Gee-Gees hosted. So does that mean that Hockey Country, women playing the game is good, but women having control of their bodies is bad? How does that make any sense?
Obviously, that's not what they believe. That would be insane.
Point being, though, the Sens will skate on this thanks to a nifty bit of self-censoring. The team is on a losing streak, so the how, why and what's to be done about it is Priority One for the local sports media. Many would probably also decide that this isn't a "hockey story," and who really wants to get sidetracked into an abortion debate? Any editor or producer would probably nix a column or TV story about the subject.
However, not commenting on it is just as much of a political statement. The whole notion that sports is free from politics is a nice concept, but really, it's a huge load of bull.
It is a hockey story. It would be a story in Toronto if something similar came to light with the Leafs. In the NBA, it was a big story when Larry H. Miller, owner of the Utah Jazz, refused to show Brokeback Mountain at a theatre he owned. It's part of the whole narrative (and to his credit, Miller later admitted he was wrong).
Bottom line, people donated to the Senators' charities because it's an adjunct of the hockey team that has touched lives and thrilled people for the past 15 years. Those fans deserve much better than being misled, or taken for granted.
(Much obliged to Erin Nicks for the link.)
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