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Old 11-19-2002, 01:02 PM
fredaevans fredaevans is offline
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In America it's Soccer or Little Leg. baseball in

Canada ...... Oh Brother! From the New York Times today.SPORTS OF THE TIMES
National Passion Gone Awry

WHAT is red, white and blue and home to a burgeoning myriad of heedless litigation?

No, you hoser, it is not the United States court system. It's a Canadian hockey rink.

Canadian sporting tradition used to be freezing the backyard pond so the kids could play. Lately, it has been filing suit to freeze the assets of your neighbor so he will pay.

Last week, in picturesque New Brunswick, the family of a 16-year-old hockey player sued the province's amateur hockey association for about $200,000 because the league's Most Valuable Player trophy went to another player. The suit seeks psychological and punitive damages and a guaranteed spot for their son on an all-star team headed to the national winter games.

The New Brunswick filing came days after another hockey case was dismissed in a Toronto court where the father and coach of a 9-year-old player was accused of putting a bounty on the head of another 9-year-old player. On Monday, another lawsuit surfaced in Ontario, where a family wants damages from a coach who they say humiliated their 15-year-old in front of his teammates. In Ottawa, a pending hockey suit revolves around a lack of playing time. Another suit, in Alberta, claims that a player was blacklisted by his local association and unjustly cut from an elite team.

O, Canada.

He shoots! He sues!

This is, of course, not something confined to our neighbors to the north. The parents of American little leaguers in various sports trade law briefs, and, sadly, punches, all the time. And maybe that is the unsettling part: If the usually genial Canadians can turn youth sports into an episode of "Judge Judy," what's next for us?

The Canadian case that has received the greatest attention was initiated by Michael Croteau, who insists that his son, Steven, was the unquestioned M.V.P. of his New Brunswick league last season with a league-leading 45 goals and 42 assists in 27 games. But the M.V.P. award went to Lucas Martin, whose 21 goals and 39 assists made him the fourth-leading scorer.

Which begs the question: Shouldn't the second- and third-leading scorers be suing, too?

Actually, there is an easier way to cast aside this silly lawsuit. In the 1999-2000 National Hockey League season, Jaromir Jagr won the scoring title but Chris Pronger, who finished 47th in points, was named the M.V.P. Jagr has apparently forgotten to file a lawsuit.

As with many quarrels in youth sports, the heart of the dispute is unreasonable expectations. As with most lawsuits, the heart of the dispute is money. Put the two together and behold the litigious trend.

It has unfolded in Canada for two reasons. Hockey is not only the national passion, it is also the only true money-making sport. And Canadian youth hockey is a demanding, fast-track system where 12-year-olds are scouted for the country's major junior leagues, a powerhouse feeding ground for the N.H.L. By the time the best Canadian players are 15, they are routinely forced to decide if they want to someday play college hockey or make themselves eligible for the junior league draft. When they are 17, the N.H.L. awaits with its draft.

A big N.H.L. contract is the carrot dangling at the end of the hockey stick, and it prompts promising young Canadian hockey players everywhere to play year-round and travel extensively. To pay for those summer leagues, for the extra training, travel and equipment, it is not uncommon for Canadian parents to take out a second mortgage.

Can you feel the pressure on those furiously skating little legs ratcheting up year by year, league by league?

When something goes wrong, however one defines that, it helps explain why a disillusioned parent might turn anywhere for help. Let the courts be the reset button on a dream gone bust.

Bobby Orr, the pride of Parry Sound, Ontario, and the best hockey defenseman ever, was 18 when he made it to the N.H.L. He is a player's agent now, a working part of the current system. But even he wants it changed.

"It's gotten absolutely crazy," he said in a conference call with Canadian reporters last week. "We try to move the players too fast. Players should wait until they're 17 to make any decisions. And it's time for parents and coaches and volunteers to figure out why they're there."

They are not there, obviously, so they can later testify. They are there to help put on the game. To teach. To soothe and support. To guide and explain. To enjoy.

It is not to judge. Keep the judges out of it
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Old 11-19-2002, 04:24 PM
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pmflyfisher pmflyfisher is offline
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I coached, managed, was league VP, all star manager, etc of a large U.S. boys and girls little league for ten years. Was also president & treasuer for the last two years. Big league 1700 boys and girls.

My only problems were with the parents, and when the all star teams were picked I turned off the answering machine and went fly fishing.
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Old 11-19-2002, 04:52 PM
fredaevans fredaevans is offline
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I've heard different versions of the same story far too often.

Was a soccer ref assignor (and Sr. Ref) for many years. End of season play offs were the most fun times of all. Usually little problem with the adult ref's taking sideline flack, but for the younger games you used youth ref's.

Most fairly compitent individuals, but "parents/coaches" far too often felt it was open season because the ref wasn't some 35 year old with a State patch. My instructions were to "warn him/her once; card the second." Still don't have their attn either eject to stupid sob or abandon the game.

Given a choice between the last two: choose the "red." 99.9999% of the time the players are just fine and everyone on the field is having fun. The sidelines ...... ah, a story for another time slot.

I've never seen "league leaders" who encouraged childish behavior from the side lines. Wonder why?
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