I was listening to public radio in the car last night, "As It Happens" and caught this interview with Bill Gade of CJradio
From Thursday's edition (11/3/2011). The account of this incident is appalling when you consider it occurred under the very noses of adults(coaches) who so many parents entrust their children to. What is encouraging is how this community reacts when the truth comes out.
NEEPAWA NATIVES TROUBLES. Backlash against bullying. Since news of a hazing incident among the Neepawa Natives junior hockey team broke, the fans have reacted angrily, players have been quitting -- and now the club's future seems to be in jeopardy.
podcast link: http://www.cbc.ca/asithappens/editor-content.html?cs=utf-8#
This story is the first one covered in the podcast, so you won't have to listen to all of it to hear interview. It's thoroughly disgusting what this hazing involved and how the coaches initially tried to turn the tables in true psychopathic style, before the story went public.
In an earlier commentary by Bill Gade from Oct.20, 2011, he describes the "wave of shock" which spread through the community as the truth of this hazing incident comes out. While he is unable to describe the actual hazing incident in the commentary, he does in the podcast. Here is part of the commentary:
....Throughout the land the world of sports is taking over the conversations of ordinary people who don''t even really care for hockey....
And that perhaps is why a wave of shock spreads through the general population as quickly as does the news of the Neepawa Natives and their little problem. If you ask the league, they continue to investigate a possible alleged might have happened something that could maybe someday be called bullying or maybe even hazing that may or may not have happened at some point sometime. Well, you get the picture - they don''t really want to talk about it.
Those outside of hockey don''t apparently get what hazing is all about. A couple days ago I spoke about forcing a hockey rookie to walk across the street or eat a peanut butter sandwich. I''m actually quite glad that some of you out there thought that''s what actually happened. Judging from the letters I got - it seems that you thought I was being heavy handed over the eating of a sandwich.
Wait for it, there''s a big bubble bursting moment here. The veterans on the Neepawa Natives did something different. I''m not going to immediately say worse - because all bullying is wrong - even just a peanut butter sandwich. But what they did defied all logic for those of us who don''t love hockey. Among other things, they played a game called tug. Morning radio doesn''t allow me to describe that game - but you have to be naked before it can be played and you need some skate laces. If you really need the details, go check out google. Suffice it to say, its disgusting.[for those who can't listen to podcast, this hazing incident involves tying a lace around the scrotum, the other lace end is tied to a water bottle, and the player walks around the locker room a few times]
The commissioner of the league took my call yesterday. He didn't even hang up on me in twenty minutes of questioning. He wasn't willing to say much on the record either. He tells me in a few days they league will release a report. The practice of releasing a report on something like this on a Friday afternoon is called dumping. That means you release the report when the least number of people will hear the news - Friday afternoon.
In that report they may actually determine something went wrong inside the Natives organization and gosh bullying may actually have happened. The report will go on to state that this is a one time thing that was horrible but with a few simple slaps on the wrist it can all be forgotten.
The league has ordered everyone involved to refuse comment. We're hearing that is spreading across the league with the message being clear - talk about this and you never play again. Pretty great message to send to your players on bullying - do what we say, or else you face the ultimate penalty.
Commissioner Davis tells me the league has a tough anti bullying stance. Each year, they ensure there is a sign posted in the locker room that says bullying is not acceptable. Dutifully at the beginning of the season they make sure you can still read it, and if you can''t, they replace with a new one. That, is their entire action plan. He confirms they have never once asked a player in ten years if they were bullied. But he also goes out of his way to say that not one single person was the victim of hazing in ten years.
I''m a little tempted to drive to Winnipeg to see his office. Could it truly give out free pairs of rose colored glasses? If you''ve never asked, and the kids know they risk their career by saying anything, it might not be a shock you''ve never officially been told.
And that finally brings us to the point of why its been an amazing week. Because while a Neepawa Native junior sits at home thinking he will never play hockey again, something is happening. Its not at the league office, don''t worry - everything is still pretty good around there - its in the kitchens, the workplaces and the newsrooms across the province. Its people talking and deciding this is not acceptable. Its people demanding action.[ ]
I''m not nearly the only person suggesting what the correct course of action is. Its message time to finally end this problem that doesn''t exist in the MJHL. Its time to suspend every single player that sat in that dressing room - whether they participated or not. If they didn''t leave, and if they didn''t speak up to stop it, they are equally guilty. Yes - I''m serious - suspend the entire team for the rest of the year. Except for the four, yes four, rookies who they did this too.
Then turn the attention to the assistant coach who watched it happen and didn''t stop it. He has truly earned himself a lifetime suspension from hockey. Goodbye. Oh - you didn''t know that did you? Because the league can''t yet determine if this happened. But yes, there was a coach in the room who did nothing but enjoy the view.[the fact the someone could actually enjoy watching this makes me want to ]
And obviously, the problem is instantly solved. After all, it only ever happened just this once...
And that''s the other interesting thing... across the province players are speaking up. They are naming dates, times, locations and coaches. They are telling stories about what was done to them. What they were brainwashed to believe was normal. What one lone kid in Neepawa, finally said no to. And with that the MJHLs one time only problem becomes public. Team after team, player after player has been involved in bullying. Its so ingrained in the MJHL that its considered normal at every level.
The league met again last night to determine what to do about the Neepawa problem. What to do, to make it seem like they were innocent and shouldn''t be blamed for years of looking the other way. Years of posting a sign that could just have well have said don''t tell anyone when you are hazed because it never happens here.
And for that, the league has lost my respect. I should hope they''ve lost yours too. Good luck with your report Kim Davis, its got to be a hell of a plan to get that respect back anytime soon.
As a footnote, Kim Davis has promised a full and complete investigation into every single incident of hazing that has occurred the in MJHL in the last ten years. If you, or anyone you know has been a victim, please report it now even if its long in the past. If your a parent of a kid on any team, in any league, sit your kids down and demand they tell you if its happened to them. Its the only way this problem will ever end. And its the only way Davis will be forced to admit this isn''t just a Neepawa problem.)
The CJ News commentary link:http://www.cj97radio.com/news/cjn9200_2276_DNS1_01.html Just curious, what's up with the " (quotation mark) being used for the ' (apostrophe)?...is this a Canadian thing?