Thursday, July 17, 2008

If it walks like a duck...

Yesterday was truly a WTF day for Canadian sports fans. First news comes out that the Canadian men’s basketball team has booted its best player because he was, um, well, something—no one is really saying—then the Leafs announce they are giving tickets away (like, free. Seriously. No, not the Intercounty baseball team. Hockey. The NHL. 1967. Those Leafs), then we heard that Ken Read is stepping down from Alpine Canada.

What. The. Flubber.

Like the basketball mystery, Read’s resignation appears to be about more than the official line suggests. It’s rumoured that he’s been battling with the board of directors of Alpine Canada for some time and the emergence of his son as a potential athlete was the perfect excuse to step aside without painting anyone as a bad guy.

Anyone with even a passing understanding of how amateur sports is run (into the ground) in this country will recognize the story line here. A Board of Directors, made up of volunteers and picked by the provinces, feuds with the professional they have hired to run their organization. You can pretty much bet that there was some kind of petty regional peeing match somewhere at the root of it all.

That’s Canadian sports in a nutshell. Alberta looks after Alberta, Ontario complains that it’s spending all the money and getting none back and PEI has way too much power. A sort of sporting version of the Peter Principle takes place at the BOD level, with a bunch of well meaning (we hope anyway) volunteers, way out of their element, unable to see beyond the concerns of their backyard.

It truly is a clusterflubber of a situation.

Of course it is possible that Read resigned for the exact reason he suggested. The Blue Jays could make the playoffs too.

In the meantime one of the most promising sport organizations under the COA umbrella has lost a key figure that looked to be leading Canada back to the top of the ski world. Hopefully whoever takes over from Read will have the good sense not to change a single thing he was doing. Otherwise, we could be shaking our heads (again) in 2010 wondering why Canada can’t seem to ever perform when it matters on the Olympic stage.

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