Saturday, May 23, 2009

Ontarians challenge province's championship rulings

A late decision last season by the Ontario Curling Association to restrict participation in their provincial championship to just four teams, one from each region, denied Ontario wheelchair curlers the same opportunity for provincial honours offered other competitors. One of two Ottawa teams was eliminated in a playdown, an exclusion that was felt by supporters of wheelchair curling to be arbitrary, discriminatory and unnecessary as well as detrimental to the long term health of the sport in Ontario.

When the championship was held, there was a significant last minute change to the rules for competition that changed the expected semi-final format from three teams to four.

Various proposals for change in 2010 have been discussed at the Zone level and OCA Executive-Director Doug Bakes has promised that the Rules Committee will visit issues raised at their next meeting.

Ernie Comerford, who is working to establish a London based wheelchair curling group, has circulated an analysis of last year's problems, with constructive suggestions for change that encourage inclusion and participation, rather than arbitrary exclusion. You can read his presentation HERE (Word doc). If you have any comments or suggestions, his contact information is included in the document.

My (admittedly long-distance) impression is that the OCA, six or seven years into supporting wheelchair curling in Ontario, are disappointed that the number of participants has failed to grow significantly over that period. While that is no reason to exclude a second Ottawa team by halving, for wheelchair curlers, the usual number of teams allowed in a provincial championship, frustration with a lack of progress in participation levels may have played a part in a reluctance to take wheelchair curling as seriously as other aspects of the sport.

I would be happy to stand, or rather sit, corrected.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The difficulty in gaining interest (in any wheelchair sport)is in my opinion (being a person who uses a wheelchair for daily mobility)is largely due from disabled people being excluded from other sports like wheelchair basketball.

There are more AB's in the "wheelchair" sports than disabled people. The need to win has taken centre stage over the intended design to include.

The lowest part in the life of a disabled person is being advised that "they're not good enough" to participate in a sport specifically designed for them as they are not as good as the AB's who are taking over disabled sports!