Article Review: Checked out of the game

Volunteer Coach

The news article can be found on the Ottawa Citizen web site

This article is about the tightening laws upon sport volunteerism. The RCMP has recently made it mandatory that "all volunteers working closely with children and the elderly are now required to be finger printed if their birthday and gender matches someone with a criminal record". Most minor hockey officials agree with the ethics and ideology of the policy but it means for them that community volunteers looking to coach or in some way assist may be held up in administration for up to 4 months. Considering that it is soon to be the beginning of the season for many hockey teams this policy comes at an inconvenient time.

The issue at hand is important because it represents the movement in our society towards tighter protocol and higher safety standards, but also shows the degradation of efficiency in our systems. Many people oppose the slow creep of bureaucracy not because of the morals that it is trying to standardize but because of the weight it puts upon society. People of our country are not opposed to the enforcement of safety and law, they just want it done in a way that does not slowly flatten personal freedoms. And that is exactly what this article represents

This article has relevance to the ethics of sport not only because of the ever growing administration of sport but also because of the question it put on criminal records. How much does the offense matter to determine whether or not said volunteer if fit for coaching? Understandably, child molesters are not to be allowed to coach, but what of far past offender that may not now, or have ever, posed as a danger to children? What if the offense was trivial and far in the past, it would be unfair to exclude a well know and good coach just because he was caught spay painting the arena wall when he was 16. Maybe these people are truly dedicated to the sport, who knows, they could even be far superior coaches to your average 'clean' joe. Besides, the offense may have even been a tribute to the sport, for example; a young player is insulted by a rival offense-man, after the game the player jumps the offense-man but unfortunately it is off the ice and thus he is charged with assault. 20 years later, this player is much more experienced and knows how to hit harder without being seen, he is clearly the kind of man who would excel in the teaching of young hockey stars.

Personally... I revile bureaucracy, as a rule. But in a situation like this I cannot disagree with the legislation for what it represents, I can however say that a simple policy like this one should be implemented far far more efficiently. I volunteer for a peewee hockey team should Not have to wait four months to have their finger prints run through a data base just because they have the same birthday as a criminal. For this policy to be implemented there needs to be a more refined filter for selecting those who need to be fingerprinted. Only taking those who match in birthdate and sex rules out practically nobody. The individual should have to match a complete appearance and background check with that of a sex offender before being required to go through a fingerprinting process. Mind you, that might take even longer and so the obvious solution is to keep better records of name changes!

In summary, regulation is lumbering along, slowly consuming little personal freedoms that we don't notice, as usual. Sport and society is continually being loaded with new regulation, and far behind refinement is struggling to keep up. Such is Democracy. So it is our job a citizens and administrators to ensure that the ideals of our society and regulation are carried high, but also that we constantly work to refine and revamp the convoluted machines that our societies are.