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Deflections: A world of appeals


Recently I heard of a fellow who applied to coach a minor hockey team but didn’t get it. The team wasn’t all he didn’t get because he appealed the decision.

A little background on how this could happen. The governing body of minor hockey in that Hockey Canada branch sort of publicly declared that anything is “appealable.” In the normal sense, one would assume this meant suspensions for game play, administrative foul-ups, or the usual errors or penalties anyone can run into during a season. I hope the spirit of the “anything is appealable” statement was meant for those. Because if truly anything was appealable, could that not include run-of-the-mill game infractions? Joey gets a tripping penalty but he wasn’t near the kid who fell. Still, the referee (erroneously) doled out a penalty which led to the winning goal. The team appeals the game because the official erred. A fairly frequent and typical scenario in minor hockey, isn’t it?

But appealing a decision where a coach is not given a team takes things to an entirely different and rather unpleasant level. The process goes thusly: The coach must first appeal to his local association, the very same group which ratified the slate of team coaches recommended by a selection committee. Clearly, they didn’t want the guy. So he wanted to try to convince said body to change its mind?

Having failed there—no surprise—the chap went to the next level of appeal, which is the district that oversees the association. They backed up the association’s decision because, after all, associations have to have some autonomy in these things. Short of a human rights violation, there wasn’t anything compelling to suggest a wrong decision. The fellow lost at this level, too.

Then he appealed, with a fee, to the minor hockey governing body. Here again his appeal was denied. He took yet another step and appealed, with another fee, to the branch which oversees the minor hockey governing body. Lost again.

He has one more step. He can appeal to Hockey Canada. If I were on the HC Appeals Committee, I’d be chomping at the bit to tell the poor man he’s lost perspective, doesn’t get it, and needs to get over himself— once HC takes more money from him for this final appeal. Evidently he can’t handle the truth because he’s not wanted as a coach and there seems to be rather definitive agreement on this, rightly or wrongly.

But the crux of the problem lies only partly with the man. The organization has opened itself up to what could be a litany of appeals on flimsy subjective judgements. The result will have board members, already plenty busy running hockey programs, spending inordinate amounts of dealing with fluff. All because anything is appealable.




Tags: coaching

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