I’m worried what kind of ice hockey person would turn my son into | ice hockey

eEarlier this spring, a woman filed a statement of claim detailing the alleged sexual assault that occurred in June 2018 at an event hosted by Hockey Canada, the country’s national sport’s governing body. She said in the prosecution that she was forced for hours to perform sexual acts against her will to eight men, including players from the men’s under-20 youth team. In April, she asked the judge to award $3.55 million in damages. Hockey Canada settled. (The allegations were never substantiated in court.)

Reassuring everyone that the settlement wasn’t paid with taxpayer money was part of the reason Hockey Canada executives are in Ottawa this week to testify in a parliamentary committee. And they wanted everyone else to be reassured, too: hockey culture is changing for the better. “Canadian hockey is on a journey to transform the culture of our sport and make it safer and more inclusive,” Tom Rainey, CEO of Hockey Canada, told Parliament.

Rainey later explained that Hockey Canada quickly contacted police about the allegations and hired a third-party investigator to issue a report – both arguably the right steps. But investigations did not go far. Rainey said the woman who made the allegations refused to speak with investigators, and did not want to identify the players involved.

Has anyone else tried to identify them? Committee members have asked this question repeatedly and in different ways. Each time, the answer was the same: Not really. Hockey Canada “strongly encourages all players to participate” in the third-party investigation. Some players did – probably dozens – but it is not known who. The law firm that headed the investigation was unable to finish its work, providing Hockey Canada only an interim report. Had the woman not made her claim this spring, it looks like we wouldn’t have known anything about this one.

“I don’t understand why Hockey Club Canada would not enforce a rule that every member of this team should be part of the investigation,” Representative Peter Julian said during the meeting. The answer may be that there was no rule to enforce it. None yet. “It was not acceptable that they told the players that participation in their investigation was optional and that they still had not changed the requirements to join a national team – four years later – to require everyone who joins … to participate in any investigation,” MP and committee member Anthony Hausfather told the Guardian.

On Wednesday, the government froze federal funding for Hockey Canada (it received $14 million last year), pending disclosure of the advice the organization received in the interim report and its signature to the government’s Office of the Sports Integrity Commissioner, an agency that can independently investigate allegations of abuse and issue sanctions.

Several times during their appearances before the committee, Hockey Canada executives have attempted to place this latest alleged assault in a broader social context. Scott Smith, chief operating officer, noted that there are more than 650,000 registered hockey players in Canada. “Unfortunately, we are a microcosm of society. We are a microcosm of this country,” he said. “The hockey culture may have been shaped by Canadians, but let’s not pretend it doesn’t work either in reverse. Because behind all these players are hundreds of thousands – family members, And the coaches, the officials, the league officials, the circuit supervisors, the fans, you get the idea. This is Canada. This sport makes us who we are too.

For his part, Housefather says he believes Hockey Canada is “in good faith when they say they want to change the culture.” But if she is on such a “journey,” as Rainey said, we deserve to know where she lies on that road. I asked Hockey Canada this week, but they never got back to me. So your guess is as good as mine, but it definitely looks very circular. After all, this isn’t the first time something like this has happened.

In fact, it looks like we’re back where we were in September, before the start of the last NHL season, when former Chicago Blackhawks player Kyle Beach identified himself as the victim of alleged abuse by former team video coach Brad Aldrich. Black Hawk has not conducted an investigation into the incident for a decade. Last fall, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman hinted at a culture change during that time, noting that the incident would be handled differently now, “because we won’t tolerate this.” The NHL has launched its own investigation into Hockey Canada’s allegations, in the event that some former young players are now in the league. So we’ll see.

As The Athletic said this week, summarizing past high-profile abuse allegations, this is a “hockey story, decades old.” Here we are again, reading every chapter. Players have been objected or objected to by another person. Silence in the aftermath. A report is compiled. Cultural change is promised. Then the gameplay continues and more trivial issues, discussions about rules or maximum payouts—things that, for now, feel important to the health of the game, take over.

But in the meantime, youth enrollment in hockey is slowing down and the sport, a social institution, is fading away. Perhaps for parents, the financial costs of hockey are too high. Or perhaps the mental and physical costs. Take me for example. Here I am wondering how my kid would be able to play a sport he loves without being mistreated by some idiot or letting hockey turn it into a sport. Wherever Hockey Canada thinks it’s on its journey, it feels like we’re still at a point where both seem possible.

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