Amid renewed calls for changes to Hockey Canada’s leadership following news of a second fund used to pay off sexual assault claims, a University of Guelph sport management researcher is calling for community action.
Dr. Ann Pegoraro is a professor in the Department of Management and the Lang Chair in Sport Management in the Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics. She is also the co-director of the National Network for Research on Gender Equity in Canadian Sport and the director of the International Institute for Sport Business and Leadership.
With the second round of parliamentary hearings into the Hockey Canada scandal underway, the new interim Hockey Canada chair has characterized the situation as one driven by “misinformation and unduly cynical attacks.”
That attitude, says Pegoraro, ignores the fact it is ultimately “the voices of parents and participants that are key to driving change in our national sport,” especially one so enshrined in Canadian culture, says Pegoraro.
“Hockey Canada does not own hockey in Canada. Hockey belongs to Canadians,” she adds.
She believes a national system of standards for sports is one way communities can bring about effective change.
“The way sport has been allowed to police itself and be very internal has created this festering of the situation,” she explained on The Bill Kelly Show on 900 CHML. “Finally, we do have an Office of Sport Integrity Commissioner, but we’re struggling to get organizations to sign on.”
That system should start at a grassroots level with the standards “operating as ‘quality assurances’ for participants, as well as building back trust within the sport system,” she says.
Once determined, those standards could be passed up to through sports organizations to the national level to create a safer and more inclusive sport environment.
To emphasize the need for new Hockey Canada leadership, parents and players should provide testimonies and share their stories, adds Pegoraro.
“The power (for change) is in the members of the organization; those are the parents and participants and they’re the easiest and best leverage for change,” she explained. Today, Hockey Quebec took the first steps with their vote of non-confidence in Hockey Canada and decision to withhold player registration fees.
Those actions and others, including a full financial audit, will help the Canadian sports system move forward and become one that is more transparent and trustworthy.
She is available for interviews.
Dr. Ann Pegoraro