Archive for October, 2011
Friday, October 28th, 2011
Been one of those strange couple of days.
Canada’s Aaron Rathy wins a silver medal in wakeboard/water ski at the Pan Am Games in Mexico, celebrates, then gets stripped of the award when informed he tested positive for a banned substance. He accepted responsibilty and apologized - in humiliation. Nice, eh?
Canadian researchers have found large numbers of un-healthy youngsters have clogged arteries. There is concern about kids way out of physical shape. A female high school teacher (I won’t mention her name) sent me an e-mail saying I was wrong (and so was one of the top orthopaedic surgeons in Canada) saying today’s children are lazy and obese. Message to her: do your homework.
How about the student at the University of Arizona, the guy who was almost a streaker? If you missed it, we really have to be whacky if there is a belief that a 22-year old wearing a costume and speedo is charged as a criminal. Dressed like an official, he ran on the field, blew a whistle, tears off his pants and shirt. He’s a prankster, that’s it.
Those 15 to 20-year old boys on the hockey team in Neepawa, Man. – population, 4,000 people. Rookies were reportedely asked to dance in a sexy way in front of veterans. Then, allegedly, a 15-year old made to tie a water bottle rack to his scrotum and walk across the dressing room.
Almost forgot, the Santa Claus parade is coming soon.
Wednesday, October 26th, 2011
Bonjour, and au revoir, to Monsieur Olivier Renière.
Renière is the latest dope.
The running back with the University of Montreal has run himself out of Canadian Interuniversity Sport football for two years after testing positive for using a banned substance, a.k.a steroid abuse, according to the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport.
Renière, either didn’t understand the rules in English or French, or thought he’d test his luck – and lost.
He’s the latest member of the un-official Cheaters Club – a group of student athletes, led by football players, caught for using no-no stuff despite repeated warnings. Sadly, despite all the education, this group continues to grow in this country.
The CIS, rather than randomn spankings, needs to send a stiff message: caught once, found guilty, and you’re gone from university sport in theis country – for good.
The Carabins, on a three-game winning streak, move on without Renière.
His urine was examined last August, and not during a game, and the sample included 19-norandrsoeterone. It’s a banned substance on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s prohibited list. He waived his right to a hearing. Either he knew he was guilty or had to attend a class, practise or something else.
The CCES have conducted about 600 tests (lots of money) since the scandal of March 2010 when the University of Waterloo and football team received coast-to-coast publicity – for the wrong reason. Waterloo suspended its football program after nine players tested positive for human growth hormone and testosterone. Football players. Nice, eh?
University of Montreal athletic director Manon Simard, in damage control mode, said it was the first case at the university since the re-launch of the program 16 years ago. Message to Simard: one guilty doper is one too many.
Feeling remorse, Monsieur Renière said ““I admit to having consumed dietary supplements purchased on the Internet from the United States in an attempt to save money, and I was well aware of the risk of contamination associated with purchases of this sort and that the Carabins medical team was opposed to players taking dietary supplements,” said Renière. “The substance detected by the CCES did not appear on the list of ingredients indicated on these supplements. I deeply regret my decision, and I’m now paying a much higher price by being deprived of playing a sport that has been my passion for years.”
Yet another excuse. Message to athletes: any doubt, stay away.
Sherbrooke plays at Montreal on Saturday in a meeting of 6-2 teams.
Guess what people will be talking about at that game?
Friday, October 21st, 2011
Over the past 40 years, I have been very fortunate to watch many, many young people mature and develop in sports.
One of them was a big kid, barely old enough to shave, take Brampton by storm in the game of football. It was way back, when he attended Notre Dame High and I still remember many coaches wanting to take credit for his success. Yeah, right.
Back then, Jerome Messam was a boy in the body of a man.
He has been a hard worker. As a high school player, bounced off opponents like a pinball. He could score touchdowns at will. One game, he had more than I have fingers on one hand. Ah, that’s five. I wrote about him in the paper and had him on my FAN 590 radio show. In fact, he was on not long ago. The most recent time – as a member of the Edmonton Eskimos.
I find it fascinating when my colleagues in the media, now that Messam is a pro, finally give him attention. Or the time they focussed on him because of some mistakes, tried to hang him, when he played for the B.C. Lions. Lots of pro players make mistakes.
He’s now a 6-foot-3, 245-pound running back.
When the 26-year old takes the football, you really don’t want to tackle him without risking pain – lots of it.
Messam, in his own words, “screwed around too much”. He admits there were some issues including a suspension, some “personal matters” and reported breaking of rules and un-professional conduct detrimental to former teammates. Not sure how much of that is accurate – or exaggerated.
Here’s what is true.
He was academically ineligible to play in the NCAA Division One. He still pursued his education elsewhere. Messam, who was dominant as a Peel Region high school player and also as a Brampton Bulldog in the Ontario Varsity Football League, was un-drafted in the Canadian Football League. He has a great family network of support. Friends, too.
Now, he’s 157 yards away from a CFL milestone - and a bunch of games to go to make it happen.
Messam could become only the fourth Canadian in almost 50 years to rush for 1,000 yards in one season.
He could get that yardage tonight against the Argos in Toronto or it might happen two days before Halloween against the team that traded him – British Columbia. Wouldn’t that be something?
Bob Swfit in 1964, Orville Lee in 1988 and Sean Millington in 2000 have all surpassed the 1,000 yard mark. Messam, I hope, is next.
I’ll be cheering for him.
Thursday, October 20th, 2011
I get people always telling me how wonderful they are because they volunteer and, if it wasn’t for them, this and that wouldn’t happen.
There are volunteers in our society for lots of things – and that’s great.
Don’t get me wrong, volunteering is a marvellous thing. More people should do it, too.
There is a motivation to volunteer. People feel good too. But they should volunteer because it means something to them – and not believe, as some do, that they are doing it to get something in return. Know what I mean? There are people reading this who know what I mean.
Was reading this piece of literature the other day about volunteers being critical to the success of sport and recreation. I agree – to an extent. Like the huge group of volunteers that will be needed for the 2015 Pan Am Games throughout the Greater Toronto Area and Southern Ontario.
But what I have difficulty with is having people volunteer to coach, teach and instruct – when they either don’t know how to do any of them in an effective way, lack credentials or try to impersonate someone to get bonus points of some kind.
Volunteers might have a strong passion for something or want to make a meaningful contribution – and I’m solely talking now about sports – with young people. Here’s the part that gets my stomach gurgling – and I am not alone. There are people who volunteer and actually think they’re helping, when it’s really the opposite, know it and refuse to accept criticism.
There are other volunteers who have been huge role models. We need more of them. I know volunteering is big and becomes an expectation by some in the educational world. But, when the volunteer – let’s say is attempting to coach and does something un-productive. Well, I have to wonder?
People can volunteer to coach school sports – and many do a fabulous job. Many also stand around like totem poles for liability reasons and, for example, when a more qualified volunteer (and not a teacher by profession) does a better job resulting in praise from students and parents – look out. Lots of jealousy.
Experience from older people can work both ways. Some have great characteristics and do wonders. Some are looking to fill a time void. Attracting volunteers, screening and training them, then retaining can be a challenge. People want to hang on to the good ones. But how do you tell those other volunteers “thanks, but no thanks”.
Wednesday, October 19th, 2011
Football might be the biggest thing these days at King City Secondary, a school north of Toronto.
The school that once had actress Nicole Kidman running around in the 1995 movie “To Die For” and the same institution that graduated current Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, his country in turmoil, is making quite a statement on the gridiron.
Four league games. Four league wins. All decisive outscoring opponents - 209-0.
Either the team is dominant or the opponents, ah, not having a good year.
Once called “the Invaders”, the nickname police in the bureaucracy got uncomfortable with that at King City and toned things down. How about - ”the Lions”. The school that has a high performance athlete program is showing what a senior football team can do when players are given a football. The junior squad, York Region champs for several years, don’t seem to be destined for a repeat. One never knows how the football bounces in this school game.
But there is a new Lion King in this vast region, one where so many great stories are available about athletes. One problem: those stories, for the most part, are hushed up as coaches, teachers and administrators appear to have more important things or live in a cocoon.
Brad Matwijec is not one of them. He coaches ther senior Lions, a team that got hammered by Holy Trinity of Courtice, 28-3, last year in the Metro Bowl played in a cavernous Rogers Centre and in front of thousands of empty seats. Bizarre holding it there when it makes more sense at a university setting. This year, in an exhibition game, King City got even with the boys in that small commmunity.
I have done many stories of King City athletes: from Marc Fortin, now playing hockey at the University of Wisconsin, to the one about Ben Diplock who wanted to play linebacker and battled a neurological impediment.
Now, a new Lion with heart has stepped up. His name is Sam Montazeri.
Not one for scoring points, his job is stopping opposing teams.
Done a good job so far. Last game, forced a fumble and was a nuisance to the other team as the Lions rolled over previously undefeated Brother Andre, 41-0. Montazeri is 6-foot-1, 230 pounds. He is going to university next fall: Western, Laurier or McMaster are his picks right now. He’s a stud, gets the job done and is not just a jock. Academic honors, too.
I had a chat with him the other day. We have something in common. Both of us lost our father as teenagers. Can be tough – even at the best of times. I am not worried about him. He’s great on the gridiron, but he’ll be a bigger success story in life.
Monday, October 17th, 2011
Here we go again.
Another report. More money spent. Same story. We have a looming health crisis – and, it appears, no one seems to give a hoot (not the word I wanted to use).
Canadian kids continue to be out-of-shape, obese, lack physical activity and setting themselves up for a future of serious health problems. Does anyone care? Not too sure. Governments and Boards of Education keep looking at each other and don’t appear to be doing much to emphasize mandatory increases in school activities – and I don’t mean walking from class to class.
Something called “Active Healthy Kids Canada” have released information which shows how inactive young people are these days. Overall grade average for children and youth is D minus. Long way from the top. I remember teachers saying that anything below a C was bad news.
Get this, 32 per cent of youngsters are taking the recommended 13,500 steps every day to meet the Canadian physical activity guidelines. How the heck did someone come up with that number? Better yet, how much money did we waste waiting for someone to get that number? Not sure of the last time I saw young people counting step 1,step 2,step 3, step 4…..step 13,500. Made it.
Right to the point: very few elementary and high school students are getting 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical exercise needed every day. I haven’t made this up. That’s from the so-called experts.
They are Active Healthy Kids Canada, ParticipACTION, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) Research Institute – Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group (HALO) and the Ontario Physical Health Education Association are the organizations raising the red flag. Is that all these people do is work on reports?
Question: do we have physical and health education teachers in schools? Why are they not expanding intramural programs in gyms, on those fields, the pools, etc. What are those consultants, superintendents and even Directors at Boards of Education doing with those high salaries we are paying them? Trustees – wake up? Parents – do you care?
Rates of high blood pressure increased to 77 per cent. Diabetes is up 45 per cent. Obesity up by 18 per cent.
It’s estimated that 45 per cent of males and 40 per cent of females in Ontario are likely to develop cancer in their lifetime. Dr. Mark Tremblay, from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, says “physical activity is a key component of chronic disease prevention”. Thanks, Doc.
Maybe we need to include those words on the pay cheques of all educators as a start. I would say politicians too – but they only listen around election time.
Enough of the words.
Let’s start seeing some action or put people in positions who can make a change – in the best interest of our future.
Saturday, October 15th, 2011
Interesting day in college and university sport.
Long time since I saw a player punt a ball and, with the wind playing games, the same guy ran and caught it. Laurier’s Ron Pfeffer did it. Same game, different play. Pfeffer punts the ball – and the wind blows it back. Offical stat for the punt: minus 9 yards.
Pfeffer, and his teammates, got the feeling it just wasn’t a good day for Laurier who lost its third game at home. This one, in inclement weather. Now, the Golden Hawks must beat Guelph next Saturday – or, my gosh, miss the playoffs. If that happens, there will be people calling for changes at WLU.
Oh yeah, McMaster – with 22 consecutive points – won 25-6 – with former Laurier Hall of Famer Stefan Ptasczek (now Mac coach) beating his former coach, Gary Jefferies.
Back to re-building for York. The Lions, eliminated again from the post-season round, got spanked in Guelph. The Gryphons, in front of a hometown crowd of 322 (that’s right), won 51-2. York could only manage 50 yards of passing while Guelph’s Jedd Gardner had eight catches for 127 yards. Look at it this way, York did win one game this year – more than they did in several of the previous years.
Andrew Gillis, now in his fifth year at the University of Toronto, had the local fans happy when he became only the sixth U of T quarterback to pass for 4,000 yards in a career. He was 16 of 36 for 260 yards, but the Blues offensive team never made it to the end zone. Western improved to 7-0, clinched first place too, with a 21-9 win. Western have worries with several key players injured. The latest: rookie running back Tyler Varga, who scored his 15th touchdown (tops in Canada) before leaving with an injury.
This was supposed to be a better year for Waterloo, back after last year’s team suspension, but now winless in seven. Yes, eliminated from the playoffs. Warriors could only manage 20 yards of rushing in a 53-0 butt-kicking from Queen’s – a team that is on a five-game winning streak. It helps when running back Ryan Granberg, No. 1 in rushing in Canada, scores four touchdowns and piles up 240 yards on 31 carries.
Best game of the day: Matthew Falvo, from Welland, kicks an 11-yard field goal on the last play of the game as Ottawa says goodbye to Windsor, 32-30. Have to mention Gee Gees (who lost Hec Crighton winner Brad Sinopoli to Calgary), now can scream in English or French for quarterback Aaron Colbon. He completed 21 of 34 for 340 yards. Nice game.
Going to the playoffs: Western, McMaster, Queen’s, Ottawa, Windsor and either Guelph or Laurier. Toronto has a chance, but a minor miracle has to occur.
Other amateur sports highlights for the day:
- St. Andrew’s College has the top high school football team in the Greater Toronto Area. Unbeaten, they added another W with an easy 31-6 win over Villanova. Yannick Harou, with two TDs, a sure bet to make a Canadian university team.
- George Brown College distance runners win both the men’s and women’s individual races at the Fleming Invitational in Peterborough. Sean Sweeney is No. 1 for the guys and Erika Houde-Pearce is No. 1 for the gals.
- Three goals from Alon Badat as York University thumps Windsor 6-0 in men’s soccer. York, defending Canadian university champs, is now 9-1-3.
Friday, October 14th, 2011
Every day it happens.
A conversation with a parent, a coach, a player. Lots of e-mail too. Even calls from friends of athletes, retired teachers and rattled alumni.
Johnny did this. Susan did that.
They all have the same question: how do we get some publicity?
Many are more than just a score of a game, but great stories of individuals and their accomplishments. On Sunday Morning, my show from 8:00am to 10:00am, we have some marvellous athletes, coaches, officials and others elaborate on their accomplishments.
What boggles my mind, and it doesn’t take much these days, is that high schools in the Greater Toronto Area know that it’s as simple as an e-mail, a call, a Tweet or even – yes, a fax. But, as they tell me, they’re all too busy. That is, until a team is that close to winning a championship.
I do believe something is whacky, and both Boards of Education and athletic associations need to stop staring at each other and do something. That’s if they really do care about highlighting students in sports. There are people (whose salaries are paid by taxpayers) to do this job efficiently. Apparently, they’re having difficulty. Even they don’t get timely and accurate information.
When invited to talk about this on the radio, no one has picked up the offer. No one wants the opportunity to find a solution – or prove that I am wrong. No one wants to ruffle feathers. Principals abstain. Boards are worried about backlash from the Unions as teachers volunteer their time to coach. Athletic association reps are either always right or just sit and listen. So, every one stays their distance. Year after year it’s the same story.
In the past month, I have met with several groups in the Greater Toronto Area – to try help. The private and independent schools are eager. Sure, it helps their cause – but it also helps their students. They saw the light at the end of the tunnel.
What’s so simple is to make it mandatory for schools to communicate information - on time - to the Boards. Then, some of those people I had mentioned earlier need only to forward it to the media – like us at Sportsnet 590 The Fan – who actually care about amateur sport.
It’s that simple – or is it.
Wednesday, October 12th, 2011
Is it me or do you feel the same way about the Pan Am Games, which start in a few days in Guadalajara and Jalisco, Mexico.
It might be for some, not for others.
Where’s the excitement about one of the largest sporting events in the world with almost 50 countries – or does that come when Canadian taxpayers check the bill for sending a delegation of 493 athletes. Tack on the coaches, administrators, officials, medical staff and all the others who tag along for special reasons.
OK, enough of the cyncial stuff. Yes, I am a supporter of amateur sport and starting to get fueled by our 257 men and 236 women – including what some people call our “developmental team” of swimmers and those in track – hoping to win medals.
I guess we’re saving the best athletes, or so it seems, for the Olympics in London next summer.
If they don’t come home from Mexico with lots of jewellery at the end of the month, we can use the phrase they have said in past: we can always look forward to the next Games. Right?
Yikes, that’s in Toronto!
Ian Miller, at the ripe age of 64, is Canada’s oldest athlete. His sport: equestrian. His horse: quite a bit younger, too, but Miller has done the country proud with his list of international awards. Anqi Lo, only 15 years old and taking time away from Streetsville Secondary in Mississauga, is our youngest. Yes, she can play table tennis very well.
Canada will compete in 35 of the 36 sports. Seems we don’t have anyone good enough for “basque pelots”. Yes, it’s a racquet sport of some sort. Trust me.
In case you just happened to wonder, Canada won 138 medals in Rio de Janeiro in 2007. That was good enough to place fourth as a country. The biggest haul by the Canucks was in 1999, then hosted by Winnipeg, when Canada claimed 196 medals. Maybe it has to do with winning big on home soil?
So, you excited yet about the Pan Am Games?
Monday, October 10th, 2011
Maybe it’s cognitive science and a study of how the mind works?
Not sure about the locker room pep talk. Or, the determination on the mind of athletes and coaches. Or, what benefit there is in amateur sport in rubbing your opponents’ faces in a lopsided score?
The University of Guelph women’s rugby team is strong. People who know the OUA league, the game and the Gryphons program know that very well. The team is 5-0, won the past three league titles, outscored opponents 453-8 (that’s correct) this season and, for some reason, pounded York University 106-0 on Oct. 7. Guess the Mercy Rule was not working on that day or maybe Guelph was just getting a jump on Thanksgiving – for the talent on its roster.
I find it hard to believe that Guelph, or any university, would deliberately run up the score. Maybe something bizarre happened – like a complete meltdown by York, a team that now has a record of 1-5. Not sure. I wasn’t at the game. In fact, reports from both schools that usually occur on sports, for some reason, didn’t come on this game.
When is too much just that – too much?
Then again, is it greed or just pure sportsmanship?
Can coaches and players control what some people define as more than a game, but a humiliation.
The most lopsided score in university sports history is 222-0 in a football game. Georgia Tech beat Cumberland College of Tennessee by that score many years ago.
Cumberland also closed its football program.