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Defining Hockey Canada's problem in plain English continues to be a problem – The Globe and Mail

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Witnesses Scott Smith and Brian Cairo appear at the standing committee on Canadian Heritage in Ottawa on July 27.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

When Hockey Canada officials last showed up to take questions from MPs, they came off like typical sports bureaucrats. Sure of themselves, shaky on the facts and totally oblivious to the fact that everyone was enraged at them.

The usual ‘Yeah, we’ll try to get back to you’ approach went over about as well as pulling a gun in the committee room.

On Wednesday, the heads of the five hockey families returned noticeably chastened. This time they had numbers to hand. In the most non-specific terms possible, they embraced the idea that something has gone badly wrong in their operation. Defining that thing in plain English continued to be a problem, but everyone agreed it was definitely something.

What had changed most was job descriptions. These sports wonks had read Twitter and now understood their new function – as zookeepers.

Canadian hockey players are animals. It’s the Canadian hockey establishment’s job to keep them from killing chickens.

“We’ll dramatically expand the number of players who are exposed to enhanced education with respect to off-ice issues,” said Hockey Canada chief executive officer Scott Smith. “These players will carry that training back to their leagues, provincial and minor hockey associations.”

Smith said that in his opening statement, back when he was still young and full of hope that he might keep his job. Three hours in, after MPs from every party had called for his head and tried to hand him a saw, he was less co-operative.

Someone tried to nail him down on whether or not the problems at Hockey Canada, and in hockey generally, are “systemic.” Smith ducked and weaved. But if you were listening, you’d have gotten his answer at the outset.

If you need to pull the big wolves out of the wild and domesticate them in the hopes they will go back and convince all the lesser wolves to stop being so wolf-like, that’s a system-wide issue. If implementing basic human decency requires government intervention and a 19-page “Action Plan,” the system is fried.

“Players, no matter their skill, must know they cannot act with impunity,” said another game warden, CHL president Dan MacKenzie.

What an amazing sentence. It suggests this is a new idea.

That everyone’s always known that Roger, who’s stuck on the fourth line, can’t go around beating up women and expect the lawyers and insurance guys to make that problem disappear before the NHL draft. But as of right now that same rule applies to Jimmy, who’s leading the team in power-play goals and getting called up to Team Canada. This is your first and only warning, Jimmy. There’s a new bunch of old sheriffs in town.

The text of Wednesday’s hearings was fact-gathering about a single alleged assault and its aftermath. How much money was in Hockey Canada’s sex-abuse piggy bank? Who got it and when? How was it dispersed?

Smith was pressed repeatedly about business basics like keeping minutes of in-camera board meetings and doing due diligence around lawsuits. He said a lot of words that did not amount to answers. When in doubt, Smith blamed the lawyers.

“You need better lawyers,” said MP Anthony Housefather.

That was as close as Housefather, Smith’s most effective antagonist, got to a kill quote.

MP Kevin Waugh also connected with a jab: “When I look to the seven of you, and three on Zoom, that’s not the face of hockey today. That front row tells me everything.”

Occasional zingers aside, there was no great revelation or shocking stumble that will redefine this scandal. For that, you needed to pay attention to the subtext.

What no one has bothered to do during all of this is rebut the idea that young men who are good at hockey are also inherently perverse. Not some of them, but all of them. That they do what they like to whomever is unlucky enough to cross their path in the wrong hotel room late at night.

You’d think Hockey Canada would have some interest in mounting a character defence of the typical hockey player. Until very recently, when we thought of ‘good Canadians,’ we pictured nurses and firemen and a guy behind the bench coaching kids, who will all grow up to be good guys and hockey dads. Hockey Canada made a lot of money marketing this Tim Hortons utopia.

But having been caught bending the rules to protect that brand, Canada’s hockey establishment is now pressing the self-destruct button. In order to save itself, it has to destroy hockey.

Pull back from the talking points and the gotcha questions. What message are the people who run hockey in Canada trying to send? It’s twofold – hockey does not have a systematic problem (ergo, we are not the problem); the players must be Clockwork Orange’d until they are functioning citizens again.

It’s the players who’ve lost their way. Hockey Canada is the good guy. It’s trying to help the victims and make them sign NDAs, but only if they want to.

Underneath the bureaucratese, you can faintly hear the real explanation: ‘We tried, but what are you going to do with these brutes? Every once in a while, they’re going to get loose, and then it’s our job to get them back in a box before they panic the locals.’

If you didn’t believe hockey had a culture problem before Wednesday, you should now. For three hours, we were shown why players raised under Hockey Canada’s wing think they are above the normal codes of conduct that apply to the rest of us. Because the people in charge think the same thing.

If you’re caught, deny. If you’re really caught, find someone else to blame. And if there’s no one left to blame, blame the game and everyone in it. They are corrupted, not you. They require radical intervention and re-education. Since you were the one to see the taint on them, the duty falls to you to fix things. (Smith had the cheek to say his future bonuses – bonuses! – should be tied to this clean-up effort.)

As business cons go, it’s the sort that could only work on the very gullible or the very forgiving. Something tells me that when it comes to the people who run hockey, few Canadians are inclined to be either.

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LeBron Saves Team USA in Thrilling Exhibition Against South Sudan at O2 Arena

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LONDON — In what could have been one of the most monumental upsets in international basketball history, Team USA narrowly escaped with a 101-100 victory over a spirited South Sudan team at the O2 Arena in London on Saturday night. This exhibition match, serving as a tune-up for the 2024 Olympics, showcased the rapid rise of South Sudanese basketball and the indomitable spirit of the American team led by LeBron James.

The atmosphere at the O2 Arena was electric, with fans witnessing a game that turned out to be far more competitive than expected. South Sudan, a team composed largely of refugees and players from the diaspora, pushed the heavily favored Americans to their limits.

First Half Highlights:

  • South Sudan came out firing on all cylinders, building a surprising 16-point lead in the second quarter.
  • Team USA struggled with their three-point shooting, missing 12 of their first 13 attempts from beyond the arc.

Despite the odds, South Sudan’s players, many of whom have overcome significant personal and professional challenges, played with remarkable cohesion and determination. Their performance was a testament to the rapid progress the team has made under the guidance of former NBA star Luol Deng.

With the game hanging in the balance, LeBron James demonstrated why he remains one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Benched at the start of the third quarter, James returned to the floor with a determination that was palpable.

Key Moments:

  • Third Quarter: Anthony Davis’ defensive prowess helped shrink the deficit. LeBron’s return brought stability and focus back to Team USA.
  • Final Minute: With just 20 seconds left, JT Thor of South Sudan scored over LeBron, giving his team a one-point lead.
  • Game-Winning Shot: LeBron drove to the basket, scoring the decisive layup with eight seconds remaining.

South Sudan’s journey to this point has been nothing short of inspirational. The country gained independence from Sudan in 2011, and the basketball program, still in its infancy, has quickly become a source of national pride.

Notable Contributions:

  • Carlik Jones: Delivered a triple-double with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists.
  • Wenyen Gabriel: LeBron’s former teammate with the Lakers, contributed 11 points.
  • Marial Shayok: Led South Sudan with 24 points.

The team’s formation and rise have been spearheaded by Luol Deng, who played a pivotal role in recruiting and funding the program. His efforts have culminated in South Sudan qualifying for the Olympics, marking a historic achievement for the young nation.

Stephen Curry: “Wild game. They played really intense. It was nice to see how we responded. LeBron with a great finish down the stretch.”

Steve Kerr: “The whole team was embarrassed at halftime. We were challenged today, and it was good for us to feel that now. This was a reminder that we need to bring our best every game.”

Luol Deng: Expressed immense pride in his team’s performance, emphasizing the significance of their journey and the obstacles they have overcome.

This exhibition game was more than just a pre-Olympic warm-up. It highlighted the potential for underdog stories in sports and underscored the global reach and impact of basketball. Team USA, despite the narrow escape, was reminded of the importance of every game and the challenges that lie ahead.

South Sudan, on the other hand, has cemented its place on the international stage, showcasing that with determination and the right support, even the newest teams can compete with the best in the world.

As both teams prepare for the Olympics, this game at the O2 Arena will be remembered not only for its thrilling finish but also for the remarkable stories of resilience and ambition that played out on the court.

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UFC Vegas 94: Amanda Lemos vs. Virna Jandiroba – Main Event Recap

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In a thrilling main event at UFC Vegas 94, strawweights Amanda Lemos and Virna Jandiroba faced off on Saturday night. After an evenly matched first round, Jandiroba secured a dramatic submission victory in the second round, just moments before the bell.

Fight Summary:

  • First Round: The opening round was highly competitive, with both fighters showcasing their skills and maintaining a close contest.
  • Second Round: In the final seconds of the second round, Jandiroba managed to secure a submission, forcing Lemos to tap out. The win marks an impressive fourth consecutive victory for Jandiroba.

Post-Fight Remarks:

  • In her post-fight interview inside the Octagon, Jandiroba confidently called out UFC President Dana White, declaring, “Dana, I’m the next one. Dana, I’m your next champion.”

Future Implications:

  • With this victory, Jandiroba has positioned herself as a strong contender for the strawweight title. Tatiana Suarez, who was the rightful next contender for Weili Zhang, has been sidelined due to an injury. Jandiroba’s current four-fight win streak and her dominant performance at UFC Vegas 94 make a compelling case for her title shot.

Stay tuned for more updates as the UFC strawweight division continues to evolve, and see if Virna Jandiroba will indeed become the next challenger for the championship belt.

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Jake Paul vs. Mike Perry: Fight Night Updates

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Jake Paul is back in the ring, and he’s promising fireworks as he takes on former UFC star Mike Perry at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. The fight will be broadcast live on DAZN. Originally, Paul was set to fight Mike Tyson, but Perry stepped in after Tyson suffered an injury.

Fight Details:

Jake Paul (9-1, 6 KOs)

  • Paul is coming off a first-round TKO of Ryan Bourland in March.
  • He has promised that Perry won’t survive the second round.
  • Paul is more experienced in boxing but still relatively new to the sport.

Mike Perry (0-1)

  • Perry, known as “Platinum,” brings over a decade of fighting experience, mainly in MMA and bare-knuckle fighting.
  • He believes Paul is still green in the fight business and intends to use his experience to pull off an upset.

Main Event:
Jake Paul vs. Mike Perry

Live Updates: Follow DAZN for all the live updates, results, and highlights from the Paul vs. Perry pay-per-view main card.

Main Card Results:

Amanda Serrano def. Stevie Morgan via TKO

  • Round 2, 0:38
    • Watch the finish

Lucas Bahdi def. H20 Sylve via knockout

  • Round 6, 2:27
    • Watch the finish

Corey Marksman def. Tony Aguilar via majority decision

  • Scores: 76-76, 77-75, 78-74

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. def. Uriah Hall via unanimous decision

  • Scores: 59-55, 59-55, 58-56
    • Recap

Stay tuned for the main event updates and see if Jake Paul can deliver on his promise of another highlight reel knockout or if Mike Perry will teach him a lesson and pull off a major upset.

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