School Sports NL needs to be reg­u­lated, says stu­dent ath­lete


In the year 2012 in a demo­cratic so­ci­ety, should all in­di­vid­u­als have equal rights? Do these rights in­clude stu­dents as well as adults? Does ev­ery­one in so­ci­ety to­day have the right to know what they are ac­cused of, the right to know who is ac­cus­ing them of wrong­do­ing, the right to face their ac­cuser and the right to due process? Ba­si­cally, does a stu­dent have the right to have their side of a story heard?

School Sports New­found­land and Labrador (SSNL) cer­tainly as a group of adults have proven that young ath­letes in our prov­ince have no rights and es­pe­cially the right to due process. In­di­vid­u­als who are con­nected to this group can ma­nip­u­late a sit­u­a­tion so that a young ath­lete is ac­cused, with­out his knowl­edge, dis­cussed with­out be­ing present or have an adult rep­re­sen­ta­tive, and have sanc­tions put in place with­out any means to de­fend him­self or her­self.

SSNL, de­pend­ing on the per­son mak­ing a com­plaint to their ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, will over­look the pro­ce­dures and guide­lines in their own hand­book to as­sist an adult in ma­nip­u­lat­ing a sit­u­a­tion in or­der to gain an ad­van­tage over an in­di­vid­ual player and there­fore an op­pos­ing team.

Rules such as, “A rul­ing by the protest com­mit­tee must be made be­fore the next sched­uled game in­volv­ing ei­ther team in­volved in a protest,” can just be ig­nored. A well-con­nected in­di­vid­ual can ig­nore the 20 min­utes af­ter a game time limit to put in a writ­ten protest and sub­mit the protest seven hours af­ter the game.

SSNL di­rec­tors and ex­ec­u­tive are a group of “vol­un­teer” teach­ers who are fi­nan­cially sup­ported by the Depart­ment of Tourism, Cul­ture and Re­cre­ation. They also have an ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor and two of­fice per­son­nel, all of whom are paid by the Gov­ern­ment of New­found­land and Labrador. None of these in­di­vid­u­als are ac­count­able to the min­is­ter or the deputy min­is­ters of that depart­ment. Nor are the teach­ers ac­count­able to the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion. There­fore, there is no one at the gov­ern­ment level to make sure that this group of in­di­vid­u­als give young ath­letes due process.

SSNL has no higher power to reg­u­late their ac­tions. They can act as their own judge and jury. An ath­lete in New­found­land and Labrador is pow­er­less to have their voice heard against this group of in­di­vid­u­als.

Any in­di­vid­ual in our prov­ince can re­quest, un­der the Ac­cess to In­for­ma­tion and Privacy Act, a copy of any in­for­ma­tion that has been sent or re­ceived through a gov­ern­ment or public server about them­selves. SSNL is in such a po­si­tion of power that they are say­ing that emails from their mem­bers or con­nected to their mem­bers are the “prop­erty of School Sport New­found­land and Labrador, and ac­cord­ingly, the doc­u­ments are not in the cus­tody or con­trol of that school dis­trict.”

So, as a young ath­lete, you have no rights, even those guar­an­teed by the Gov­ern­ment of New­found­land and Labrador. Adults be­hind your back in meet­ings or through emails can say what­ever they want about you and you don’t have the right to know. Your rep­u­ta­tion, your fu­ture can be ma­nip­u­lated by in­di­vid­u­als who are bas­ing your char­ac­ter on an in­di­vid­ual’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion of 60 sec­onds of your life in a game sit­u­a­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the SSNL Hand­book, “School Sports was founded on the be­lief that school ath­let­ics made an im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tion to the goals of ed­u­ca­tion and as such was an in­te­gral part of the to­tal ed­u­ca­tional process. It is ed­u­ca­tion through sport.”

SSNL has taught me that as a young ath­lete I have no rights. I do not have the right to be heard. I do not have the right to de­fend my­self and I do not have the right to know what a group of adults are ac­tu­ally say­ing about me.

SSNL does give young ath­letes one right. You have the right to take an in­jus­tice to the Supreme Court. So, un­less you are rich in New­found­land and Labrador as a high school ath­lete, you have no rights.

This sit­u­a­tion should not ex­ist in our so­ci­ety. Whether you are rich or poor, young or old, ev­ery­one should be guar­an­teed the right to due process.

As a demo­cratic so­ci­ety our pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment should reg­u­late all groups so that ev­ery in­di­vid­ual has their rights pro­tected. SSNL, es­pe­cially, should be re­viewed and made ac­count­able to some gov­ern­ment depart­ment so that these in­di­vid­u­als no longer have the power to ig­nore the rights of young ath­letes in our prov­ince.

Zachary Quin­lan is a Level III stu­dent at Car­bon­ear Col­le­giate, and re­sides in Har­bour Grace. He was one of three in­di­vid­u­als — two stu­dent ath­letes and their coach — who were sanc­tioned by School Sport New­found­land and Labrador (SSNL) fol­low­ing an in­ci­dent at the pro­vin­cial AAA soc­cer cham­pi­onships in St. Lawrence last fall. He wrote this com­men­tary in March as part of a lan­guage as­sign­ment, and The Com­pass has agreed to re­print it.

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