Hockey Canada seems more concerned with how they’re portrayed in the public than they are about fixing the issues within the sport’s culture. That has to end.
On Tuesday, interim board chair Andrea Skinner told a parliamentary committee that there is a toxic culture and culture of silence at Hockey Canada but then added it also exists in many parts of society.
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This sounds like a child who was caught by their teacher and pointed to the other kids who do bad things rather than take the blame themselves. Call it what you want, deflecting, whataboutism, it’s shambolic and shameful coming from Hockey Canada.
Skinner went on to say that it is counterproductive to say that it’s a hockey problem or to scapegoat hockey as a centrepiece for toxic culture.
Here’s the rub, hockey is the centrepiece of toxic culture in Canada. While there’s no doubt other parts of society have their toxic parts to them, hockey has gone unchecked for too long.
On Monday, the Globe and Mail reported that Hockey Canada had another fund to deal with sexual abuse claims, which is separate from the one the paper reported on earlier this summer.
Skinner says the fund was misrepresented by the media. While the media can be an easy scapegoat, the fact of the matter is that the Globe was reporting on court documents, not hearsay or anonymous sources, which are perhaps easier to dispute than cold, hard files.
There is really no way to spin a fund subsidized by player registration fees positively, so shooting the messenger seems to be the strategy here.
Hockey Canada does seem to have an issue with the media as earlier this summer a survey went out asking parents about the sexual abuse scandal and one question asks if people agree or disagree with the statement “The level of criticism by the media towards Hockey Canada is overblown.”
Hockey Canada sounds like a whiny rich kid who has never been held accountable for their actions and has always fallen back on their parents to get away with stuff.
There has been too much effort to control the narrative and not fix the problems. In fact, that was discussed at the parliamentary committee on Tuesday. Hockey Canada execs say that settlement payments must be viewed in a positive manner, not a negative manner.
It’s pretty disgusting to all the victims of sexual assault that were “paid out” by player registration fees and especially the woman who filed a lawsuit alleging that multiple members of the 2018 World Junior hockey team had sexually assaulted her.
You could throw every public relations specialist in the world at this issue and none of them could make it seem like anything other than what it is: deplorable. At least the ones with a conscience, that is.
It’s time for that to end. Hockey Canada has been untouchable — they can do no wrong. However, over the past few months, it’s been proven that they can do wrong, and have been for a while.
Hockey Canada executives can tell us all day long that they are “committed to change” and talk about overhauls, morals and all the other buzzwords they like. However, the rhetoric that we see in front of MPs says otherwise.
Bloc Québécois Sébastien Lemire said Hockey Canada lives in a bubble and is disconnected from public opinion, which is bang-on. The “hockey world” is an exclusive one and is out of touch with reality.
Never before has the sport had such a reckoning, and it’s not handling it well.
It’s time for Hockey Canada to admit defeat, throw in the towel and quit dancing around the horrible, toxic culture they curated.
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