Thursday, 10 October 2013

Start of Education Blog and other Ramblings

I have been keeping a Journal for my Journey through education, specifically in Dr. Leyton Schnellert's class but have some thoughts about others as well. I am getting tired of writing things out by hand (my hand cramps badly from too much writing) so I am now transferring a bunch of journal entries over to my Blog.

This post is from September 7, 2013.

Well away we go. September is here and the resuming of the program. I am incredibly excited for getting to learn under Leyton. We had our first class on Wednesday and part of our class is keeping a journal. All through the summer self-reflection was a huge part of what they talked to us about so I'm hardly surprised by this. We discussed today what we related to a bit in the summer and then started discussing what we will be working towards for the winter term. I'm stoked on this class in particular, because Leyton has scheduled it so we will be in classes every Thursday working with different strategies. A true methods class where we can practice, fail and try again. Looking at what we thought about teaching I can tell this is going to be an interesting winter. The summer blew my mind. It was way more intense and challenging than what I expected and I'm not totally sure what to expect, but following the summer I'm expecting an amazing winter but I'm also interested to see where this will take me. I am definitely seeing how much I don't know about teaching.

We are going into our first class next week and doing community building. Sarah and Chris seem like they will be fun to work with. I don't know much about Chris, but I know Sarah and Bri are very close and Bri was a blast to work with in the summer so this should be good. I already see that Sarah is very organized and straight to the point which is awesome because organization is definitely a stretch for me. She also likes to take charge which is good because one thing I am trying to work on is sitting back and letting others take the lead now and again. I like the "Getting to know you" sheet. It should provide some valuable information. I think we have the basis for a good week planned.

We also met Dr. Veronica Gaylie in the afternoon. Her and Leyton co-teach and we see both of them on Thursdays. I have never had a professor like her. She is out there, but in a good way. She doesn't put up any kind of facade with us, but comes across as very real and authentic. It's just totally different than anything I am used to in University. She came in and did everything she could to put us at ease rather than stressing how intense and important everything we do is. It was definitely a more relaxing afternoon. I also enjoyed our discussion around nakedness (authenticity) and realized that we are probably about as mature as the students we're going to be teaching because there were a bunch of us giggling during this discussion. Anyways I'm looking forward to this year.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Why I am wearing Red Lipstick for April? Because of the Survivors/Warriors.

*Warning to Sexual Assault Survivors* The Following post may contain triggers. 

I know I have made lots of posts on my Facebook wall about Red My Lips but I figured I would write a comprehensive blog, that way if you are reading this, you are choosing to, and not just being bombarded by my constant Posts.

This is something I am very passionate about, to the point where I was accused of being over-dramatic  about the impacts about Rape in our society in Canada. The comment I got specifically was "Come back to Canada from Saudi Arabia" as if this isn't a problem in Canada. I made the mistake of getting into a war of numbers with this person to prove my point. Here are the numbers I know for sure are right. 1 in 4 Women and 1 in 6 Men will be sexually assaulted/raped in their lifetime. A little over 20,000 rapes were reported to police last year in Canada. It's hard to peg the actual number of assaults, I'd be willing to guess the number is at least double that, but that is neither here nor there as 20,000 is still way too many.

What is Red My Lips all about? It is a campaign to bring awareness about Rape Victims, Rape Culture, Victim Blaming, and also, I think to celebrate the survivors of Rape. Survivors may even be too tame of a about Warriors? (Remember this term, I am going to use it from here on in) That is the way I see these people who have survived attacks. No matter what I have gone through in my life I cannot imagine what these women (people) go through. (I may refer specifically to women at times because at this point I have never had a man confide in me that he has been assaulted.) I am struggling with my divorce right now, and in possibly the most stressful period of school I can imagine, but I look at the strength of the People who are part of the Hope Without Harm and Red My Lips groups on Facebook and am inspired. I am not a survivor. I have never been assaulted but I know way too many people who have been. I knew of three before I started the Red My Lips campaign to wear Red Lipstick in April. I have since have three more people confide in me and thank me for my work because they too are warriors. These are people that I am close to, people I care about and people who inspired me, even before knowing about this aspect of their lives and it only increases my respect and admiration of them.

Wearing the Lipstick has been interesting. After a week of doing it, I am finally starting to get better at applying it, as at the start it looked like a three year old was doing it for me. I can't say I particularly like the feeling of the lipstick, nor the fact I can't really eat or drink anything without seeming to smudge it so that has kind of sucked. I also get a lot of weird looks, as being a guy with a goatee and wearing red lipstick probably isn't a sight most people are used to, and I can't say it isn't a bit uncomfortable but I have had two conversations because of this, that have pushed me and shown me why I need to keep pushing this.

The first one was: "Rape Culture is a feminist Myth." Well, I'm a feminist so if it's a myth, I have bitten hard on that myth, but here is why it is not one. When we hear of a story like Steubenville, or cases of Rape on the news, what is most people's first reactions? A lot of times it is not, "I hope that Rapist Scumbag gets what he deserves!" It usually (not always, but usually) falls into one of the following:

"Why did she get drunk in a group of boys?"
"It's probably Morning after regrets"
"Did she say no?"
"Did she fight back?"
"What was she expecting inviting him back to her home/going to his home"
"What was she wearing"

That is a small sample but I think you get the idea. It's also the type of culture that allows people to weep for the rapists and how their lives are ruined, and feel like threatening the life of a warrior is acceptable. Rape is the only crime where society's first instinct is to blame the victim or find some way to downplay the significance of the assault. It's despicable, it's embarrassing,  and it's harmful to the Warrior who was victimized.

The other part of Rape Culture is the belief that the rapist is the creep lurking in the bushes. 80% of rapes are committed by someone known to the Warrior. A woman is more likely to be raped by a date, boyfriend, husband, acquaintance, co-worker, or guy in her friend zone than she is by some random creep trolling public areas in a black hoody late at night. This does not make her to blame for "leading him on or sending him contradictory signals." This makes him to blame for not making sure she actually wanted to have sex with him.  

The other comment I got was "We are De-legitimizing the word rape by applying it to things like Drunken groping where she at least initially consented, and guys can't be expected to be able to tell if she can consent or not when they are drunk too."

1st. The case of Steubenville is a great example of this. This gentlemen told me he disagrees that it's rape. Why? "Because the rapists used their fingers to penetrate her, not their penises, and because she probably consented originally, and it wasn't violent."

1st. It does NOT matter what she was penetrated with, just that she was. That is Rape. Plain and simple. 2nd. All witness accounts claim she was barely coherent or passed out when any sexual acts took place, so how does one consent when she is incoherent/passed out, and although this can't be proven, it seems likely she was drugged. 3. Fight, flight or freeze. Even if she was coherent, victims react differently. Some freeze, wait for it to be over, and hope that it will save their lives or make it less likely they will be harmed. His claim was this is not violent. To me forcible penetration is always violent, and after that I know Canada punishes based on degree of violence.

The other point, about guys not being able to tell her level of drunkenness. I have been drunk. I know this will come as a shock to everyone I went to high school with, and all my teachers at the time (inside joke). I have been drunk more than once. I can say that on any night (minus 1) I can still say I was in full control of my actions and in awareness of the people around me. Yes, alcohol lowers inhibitions, but you can still choose to be in control if you want to be. It is not that hard, and it is your duty. The attitude and education must change. It can not be that the girl is responsible for putting on the brakes and saying no. It needs to change from "no means no" to "yes means yes." Men: You can control yourselves to not have sex with a woman. You have that ability. It is your responsibility to get a yes from her, not for her to slam the door on you. 

So what about the minus 1? I would say to the guy "You are SOL" You chose to get that drunk, and I never believe that Alcohol is a defense for actions, especially violent ones. No you should not be exonerated for Murder, Rape, Rioting or domestic abuse because you were drunk. If I had done something that had criminal consequences on the night I blacked out, I can't say how I would have reacted then, but now I would obviously be devastated, but I know I would have to face those consequences.

All of this to say, I wear red lipstick for the month of April as much as I can because I am inspired by these warriors. It hits me deep to constantly hear about attacks on women whether in North America or abroad. I want this dealt with, and if I have to be a little uncomfortable for a month to help make that happen I gladly do that. I can't even begin to describe or to understand what these warriors go through, but I want them to know, and I want anyone who maybe is looking for help to know there are options. I love to be there for my friends, for the people I care about, but I know some may not be comfortable talking to me. If not, go to Hope Without Harm and talk to Tara Holliday or go to Red My Lips and talk to their organizers. You are not alone, there are people who want to help, and want to support you, and as Tara and HWH would say "YOU ARE SOMEONE WORTH BELIEVING IN"

One thing I will pre-emptively say is that if any Survivors do not like my characterization or use of the term warrior, I do apologize for that, and would like to know why. This is simply how I see it and I just think using a term like that is the best way for me to get across just how much of an inspiration you are to me with the fight that you display. - Red My Lips - Hope without Harm. 

Thursday, 17 January 2013

The End of Reffing for Me

I've been debating for a few days how exactly I wanted to do this post. Whether I wanted to use this to solely focus on the good stuff or use it to air some of my annoyances/grievances as well...and I decided that since those annoyances played a larger role in me quitting than the good stuff did I would kind of have to.

First point, before I get into anything else is, I am finished with Minor Hockey, and am continuing with Men's league till the end of the year and will reevaluate at that point.

So, to get into my story, this is my twelfth year of reffing. I started when I was twelve and through High School was reffing over One Hundred games a year and then reffed Two years of Junior after High School, before returning to doing just Minor Hockey till now.

When I started reffing, I was invincible! Coaches, players and fans could say anything to me and I could deal with it easily, with a laugh and walk away without a second thought. As I kept going after High School, I slowly noticed things changing. I couldn't shake off the stupid coaches, the moronic players and the annoying fans as easily. Before I easily ignored them, and then I got to a point where I started engaging them, in a manner I didn't like. Sometimes I would swear at them, more often then not I would completely mock them, and sometimes I just wanted to tell them to go to hell. I didn't like feeling this way, and I didn't like how angry it made me thinking about reffing. I remember a guy who was instrumental in my upbringing as an official, Jim Almaas telling me that the day he quit was the day he felt like taking a swing at a coach. I never forgot this and this is the point I am at.

And there is one particular coach that pushed me to this point, and is the main reason why I have avoided Midget house this season, and a good portion of last, and he is the one coach who factors in more than any other as to why I have packed it in. It is amazing to me that this coach was a level 6 Referee (which is damn hard to get) at one point in his life, when he has to be one of the stupidest coaches I have ever had the displeasure of dealing with. He sucked all the fun out of reffing for me, and he is when I realized just exactly how much I was not enjoying reffing. It's coaches like him, and the former junior coaches who don't realize they aren't in Junior anymore, that are my least favorite guys to deal with.

Now I'm not saying he's unmanageable because lots of guys deal with him fine but there was just something about him that pissed me off to no end. One of the things I really see is that as an official most guys go one of two ways when they've officiated long enough. They develop a chip on their shoulder, a big attitude, or they quit. I'm not saying all of them do, but most who stay doing it, whether they necessarily show it on the ice or not, they have a huge chip. It becomes us against them, and every coach is a dumbass, and every player is a moron, and that's how you survive officiating. I was really developing the chip, and I was really struggling with how much I was hating reffing, and who I was when I was doing it, so I finally decided enough was enough.

That being said I have met a ton of great people through officiating, and had a number of great experiences in officiating. I am going to make a list of awards below for you to read about my favorite moments reffing. Before I do that I do have a list of people to thank who were amazing for me, in my development as an official, especially when I was first starting out. Those guys in no particular order: James Carr, Brandon and Patrick Liefke, Jim Healey, Alan Marchuk and Jim Almaas. I may have missed others but that's who I can think of right now. Onto the awards.

Favorite Linesman I have ever worked with (Top 4): 4. Shawna Mann, 3. Braydon Spraggs, 2. Jeremy Silzer, 1. Mike Langin
Favorite Referees to Line for: 4. Trevor Seibel 3. Kevin Bennett 2. Troy Mick 1. Darcy Sigfuson (Especially in Revelstoke)
Guys who are the most fun to do games with, that I haven't already mentioned: 3. Lyle Hinds 2. Evan Macauley 1. Rob Edwards
Favorite Referee's to watch when I was young watching Junior: 3. Kris Hartley 2. Steve Papp 1. Andrew Guest (for 3 years straight I never missed a game he reffed in Vernon)
Best reffing Story: Giving a coach a Gross Misconduct for shattering a pain of Glass after I threw him out of a game.
Best Reffing Moments: Every game I got to ref with my Dad.
Greatest Referee-In-Chief Accomplishments: I am definitely taking credit for the development of Bradlee Jones and Mark Trznadel, because they rose immensely while I was referee in Chief so I am claiming that as an accomplishment.   
Best Guy in reffing award: Alan Marchuk -

Alan (Radar) gets his own paragraph. This guys was incredible around here for years and his legs are definitely missed. He did no less than 100 games in all 3 years I assigned, while also doing games in Armstrong and Lumby, and then would make large donations back to the associations for their officiating programs. He would do any level, at any time of day. He would help with mentoring new officials, evaluations and help us older officials when he had time. He twice paid for an official to go to the Summer officiating camp in Osoyoos so that we could send two. He is an amazing person and it is truly an honour and privilege to know him. Thumbs Up Radar ;)

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Why the Yunel Escobar Incident Matters, and Changing a Culture

Wow I know its been a while but imagine that all it took for me to come out of my blogging coma was a player whom I like, on my favorite baseball team, doing something completely idiotic.

In case you're just a fan of me, and not baseball, Yunel Escobar is a Shortstop for the Toronto Blue Jays. He wears tape underneath his eyes, over top of his eye-black with usually uplifting sayings on it. In a game last week he wrote a Spanish term which translates directly into English as "You are a Faggot."

Obviously this created some controversy and rightly so. I interact with a lot of Blue Jays fans on twitter and most of them were pretty pissed a member of their team would do something so stupid. Gregg Zaun pointed out he even conjugated the verb wrong and said to me on twitter that Yunel has "poor judgement, is immature and he's uneducated." Lets look at that a bit.

First off, I will say that Yunel's press conference was pretty terrible. He didn't do much (could he have?) to help his image at all, and basically kept repeating the same thing and pulling out cliched responses. "I have gay friends, I don't hate Gay people." Then he proceeded to say that his hair dresser and his House decorator were both gay. First off, I'm not sure too many people actually consider their hair dresser or their house decorator their friends. Secondly, the fact that he used two completely cliched jobs for homosexual men almost makes me wonder about the veracity of these claims. Not that I have anything to base this off of, it just kind of made me raise my eyebrows a bit. I also definitely rolled my eyes when he pulled out the "I have gay friends" defense. Its just the new "I don't hate black people, I have black friends."

I pretty much expected what Yunel would say, and I will admit I wasn't giving him much benefit of the doubt. I think the only thing that would have changed my opinion on this is if it had been a really strange way for him to come out himself.

Yunel also said in his press conference today that the word doesn't really mean much in Spanish and that Spanish speakers who are gay wouldn't take offense. It's a word they call each other all the time, as a joke. Basically he equated it, (my words not his) to the way English speaking North Americans use the word "gay."

At worst, he's blatantly homophobic, which I don't necessarily believe, but at best, and where I do think he falls, he is ignorant, immature and uneducated.

I really would have wished someone in the dugout would have told Yunel not to go on the field with that on. I don't buy that no one saw it. He wouldn't do it if guys weren't constantly trying to see what he would write each day. Where were Luis Rivera, (Coach) Omar Vizquel, Edwin Encarnacion, Yorvit Torrealba, Henderson Alvarez, Carlos Villaneuva, Joel Carreno, Adeiny Hechevarria or Ricky Romero? If my information is correct, all those guys would speak spanish, and not one of them saw it and thought it might be a bad idea? I would be willing to bet most saw it and overlooked it, but I don't buy John Farrel saying no one saw it. 

So you say "big deal, why is this a problem, its the way sports are."

Two of my favorite follows on twitter, @Bruce_Arthur and @TaoofStieb were rightly upset when people made these comments. When you look at the work the Burke Family, Yes Brian Burke's sons, started with the You Can Play Project you understand. The culture needs to change. Patrick Burke is one of the leaders of this now. His work is amazing and his project has grown hugely in this past year. He is trying to show the sporting world that the way we use the words "Gay" and "Fag" and other derogatory homosexual terms is not okay.

I will admit I have used these terms when I played hockey. To me and a lot of people they are just words, not totally intended as a homosexual slur, but to say that the other person is a wimp or less than manly. To us heterosexual people, we don't see the problem. To a homosexual person, hearing those terms would most likely be very hurtful. I would love to ask someone who has played a sport who is homosexual, what its like to hear those words flying around. I'm guessing its not pleasant, and probably similar to the prevalence of the word Nigger when Jackie Robinson broke into baseball.

How do we change a culture though? It starts with education, which was Major League Baseball's and the Blue Jays' approach with Yunel. He got a three game suspension without pay, and the pay he would have received will go to the You Can Play Project and GLAAD. (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) He will also be participating in some outreach work promoting tolerance towards the LGBT community, and will participate in sensitivity training.

It needs to happen at grass roots levels. Hockey Canada I am calling you out. This is something they need to get on top of. There are penalties under Homosexual slurs, but if I enforced them, the games would never end, and I would be about the only one doing it anyways. Maybe that's where I need to grow some balls and just start doing it.

I (unlike Yunel) can't say I have any Gay Friends (that I know of) but statistically speaking I'm sure I have played with and against more than one person who is homosexual. To those people I apologize if my language offended you, or hurt you, and I would love to know more about your experiences playing sports and how it felt for you.

To @BurkieYCP (Patrick) I love what you do, and anyway I can help, I would love to be involved, especially trying to get You Can Play at the Minor Hockey level in Canada.

Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Why all the Hate?

I am really bad for the amount of time I spend on the Internet. I am an information hoarder. It doesn't matter what its about, Sports, Politics or just random useless information, for some reason I am fascinated by information. Probably the easiest way to get information nowadays is on Twitter. I don't tweet a ton, but use Twitter for accessing my valued information. I follow lots of Sports Analysts, lots of reporters and a few athletes, and then usually just people whom I see tweets from that entertain me.

One of the cool things with Twitter is it gives us an amazing ability to communicate with people who we never normally would. I have had multiple conversations with Gregg Zaun (Blue Jays announcer and former Player) and Napoleon Kaufman (Former Raiders Running Back and currently a Pastor in Oakland) and its a weird feeling saying you just had a conversation about football with a former Raider.

Anyways, What I am getting to is where Twitter is bad. I am constantly amazed by the amount of hate you see on Twitter. From Joel Ward being bombarded with nigger comments after scoring the goal that ousted Boston from the playoffs, or just general comments from girls to others involving their derogatory terms like slut and whore, or guys calling each other fags and homos and more expletive filled names.

Where I get caught is two-fold. The first question I have is: Is there really that amount of hate and ignorance in our society? Do we hate each other that much?

And its amazing how people are so short sighted or pick such miniscule items to get so riled up over. Athletes in slumps get bombarded with hate tweets constantly. And its not as tame as "You suck, you should quit" its things like: "You are the worst thing to hit a baseball field ever, you should kill yourself." "Go Die" etc.
REALLY??? JP Arencibia who is the Blue Jays Catcher, had an awful start to this season, and was getting hate mail, death threats and told to go kill himself, because he was struggling to hit a baseball. I struggle wrapping my brain around that. You see any controversial call, goal or end to a series in sports, and you will find multitudes of homophobic slurs, racist comments (if applicable) and death threats. When did death threats become so mainstream? I guess with video games, the news, access to videos and information and such that people seem to be adverse to the true effect of death, but it seems absurd to mean that uttering death threats has become so mainstream. That Paul McCallum gets death threats for missing a field goal or Jim Joyce for blowing a call, (Major League Baseball umpire, cost a pitcher a perfect game with a blown call)  this just seems ridiculous to me.

If you ever read a comments section of a news story, or go to a forum for anything, it is amazing the way people respond to each other. I certainly have no problem with people being controversial, or getting in arguments over something, as it is a past-time of mine as well. I have always enjoyed debating people, and having good honest intellectual conversations. The thing is, I try to go into arguments keeping an open mind. I used to be horrible for arguing my point and barely listening to the other person, but I have learned, I can gain from actually listening (I know, Go Figure) and while some people may call it flip-flopping, I say I have been enlightened and can have my opinion changed. My point being, stick to the argument. The amount of name calling and comments like "you have no idea what your talking about" are not productive and don't really help you come across in any positive light either. You come across arrogant, not intelligent or smart, but arrogant. 
My second Question is: If people know certain beliefs they hold are wrong, how do they continue to hold them, and why won't they back up their opinions?

This blog post is long enough as it is, so I am going to make this question the basis for another post instead.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Grow some Cojones

Uh Oh, I've decided I have sooooo many things to say I needed to start writing a Blog. Or Maybe it's my desire to be a sports journalist even though I would never put any drive into being a journalist because I would rather teach. So I've decided I am just going to subject my family and friends to my passionate, irreverent, sometimes insane ideas, to things that are bugging me, catch my attention or as many of you know, my ridiculous attention to the most irrelevant facts.

For my First post I am looking at Drew Brees' Tweet from earlier in the week and a trend I find incredibly annoying. For those that don't know Drew Brees equated the NFL's investigation and failure to release (find?) any credible evidence to support the suspensions of four players from the New Orleans Saints for their alleged involvement in a bounty program, to the US's search for Weapon's of Mass Destruction in Iraq. The next day he, predictably, apologized for making an inflammatory comment. For once I would like to see an athlete make a controversial comment, grow some Cojones and actually stand by it for once.

As a Canuck fan I loved when Cory Schneider said that nobody hated the Oilers because nobody cared about them. It made me laugh it showed some personality and it added to a rivalry. I'm pretty sure I threw something across the room when I saw his apology the next day. Its a rivalry, what is wrong with making an inflammatory comment about a rival? Grow some nuts and say, "Yes I made a comment about a team I don't like, What are you going to do about it? Get Your popcorn ready the next time we play them! It should be fun."

The LA Kings Media team was hilarious through out the playoffs, especially when they said "you're welcome" to Canada for beating the Canucks. I laughed pretty good after that one, but of course, the next day I see, at least their attempt at an apology which was also somewhat humorous. They continued to be funny after that and showed they had some marbles and tried to be a little controversial, especially when mocking the terrible coverage the Kings received in LA

On one hand I get it, especially the athletes who are on twitter. The reaction is instant, as we as people, have unprecedented access to the athletes and celebrities who elect to use twitter. There are so many meat-heads on twitter and in the world, who can now instantly respond with the corresponding F-Bombs, death threats and the like, if their delicate sensibilities about their team, world views or egos get marginally injured by something, somebody, somewhere said.

On the other hand I would love to see athletes follow the lead of the Dixie Chicks. Remember when they criticized George Bush, and yes I am aware that they offered a bit of an apology, but then they wrote an album called "Not Ready to Make Nice" and basically blasted the US citizens who threatened them and stood up for themselves and the comments they had the right to make. If you're going to make a comment in the first place, and then you truly believe you made a mistake, that's one thing, but if you meant everything you said, if you have no regrets, than grow some balls and stand up for yourself. Your fans will continue to love, and low and behold wow, an athlete has some personality. What's the worst that can happen, you gain a couple more haters? I would hope as a professional athlete you would already have a bit of a thick skin, and big pair of brass ones and brush off the criticism. Besides, our society only has about a 25 second attention span so they'll forget about it soon enough.

And for the record including this one, I used six different synonyms for a guy's manhood.