I suppose hockey has a certain form of entitlement. Even when you’re dealing with overachieving parents, they may feel that there is some sort of resistance to their vulnerability. Some hockey organizations that find the guilty culprits will still continue to harp that nothing is wrong.
For example, even if someone cheats you, there’s a built-in mechanism that lingers in your mind making you feel like the certain individual didn’t do it purposely. We should not confuse fraud with friendship. A man borrows $92,000 from a friend to purchase a diamond ring and watch for his girlfriend. When his girlfriend leaves him he refuses to acknowledge that he received the money.
With hockey organizations, there seems to be a collegiality of friendship. Therefore even if fraud occurs, it becomes unbelievable because of these imaginary relationships. With minor hockey, one also deals with free labor in the form of volunteers. These volunteers believe in an altruistic illusion that the organization will not and can not take advantage of them. However, often the truth is circumvented elsewhere.
There’s no doubt that there are many hockey organizations that are run well and take their work seriously in terms of developing hockey players in the community. They are there primarily to build the confidence so that the community itself can thrive and benefit with the individuals that they produce.
A few years ago the Penticton Minor Hockey Association was accused of misappropriating $315,000. In fact, the President had the conventional wisdom to ask the Board Members to not talk to the public and/or media. The reason why is because it made the hockey association look ‘bad’. With the Leitrim Minor Hockey Association, the perpetrator was asked to pay $161,000 in restitution including a $42,000 fine.
What’s interesting with the Cornwall Minor Hockey Association was that they owed the city $85,000 before the Board Members got whiff that something was amiss. One would imagine that the Board Members would know about this. But again, we are dealing with a world of friendship. The North Bay Minor Hockey Association did the right thing. They charged the coach after 3 years of ripping off the organization’s parents, God forbid if it was 2 years.
The mother-load of all frauds happens to be in our own backyard. The former Treasurer of the Pickering Hockey Association was ordered to repay $725,000. Even the President of the Pickering league couldn’t fathom how it happened, “I never thought I’d see the day when something like this would happen in minor hockey, it brings a sense of disappointment and heartache for the people that do it for the right reasons. I don’t know how somebody could do it. How do you do that?”
I love the fact that the President of the Pickering organization asked a question. The reason why it happens is because of friendship. However, how does the friendship explain the $335,000 debt the organization faces in ice rental arrears? Were the Board Members asleep? Were they having a few pina coladas? It’s good to know that the individual who took the money had a gambling habit and an insurance business he wanted to keep afloat. When we’re dealing with friendship, that’s what friends do: we help their businesses and healthy gambling habits.
Bear in mind, there are many good organizations that are caught off-guard. One association I was dealing with did not have the money to pay for the jerseys and equipment. The president came to me and we figured out a payment plan. I dealt with this individual for 14 years, but when he passed away someone else came in. The first thing he asked me was if I could outfit his 3 sons. I told him I would outfit his sons at my marginal cost. That wasn’t good enough for him and he took his business elsewhere, spreading word to other organizations to buy from his new retailer instead of myself.
I have no problem with that, but I do have a problem with hockey associations and minor hockey leagues not willing to take competitor’s bids. That’s the problem with minor hockey. It is based on friendship between governing individuals rather than the kids that make up the diverse organization. Most of these convicted fraudsters in the minor hockey world are asked to do community work. Guess where there community work is? Hockey.