Recently I made some comments publicly in defense of rioter Nathan Kotylak. Nathan must pay his price to society: Jail, Fine, Community Service, short-term suspension from sport. However after his debt is paid, he must also be reintegrated into our fold. He must be allowed to compete in his chosen sport.
We must act rationally. Nathan needs meaningful consequences and support reintegrating into our society. I love the comments made by Judah Oudshoorn.
I believe sport has the power to change lives. Thats why I support Right to Play, sit on the board of Clean Air Champions, and sit on the board of the Canadian Olympic Committee. When I see or meet troubled youth, my first question is: Are they involved in sport?
Sport teaches values. Sport teaches soft skills. Sport teaches life skills. Sport dons responsibility to athletes at a young age… a lesson that Kotylak is learning right now.
Sport is a story of hope. Look at the troubled youth of Clara Hughes. Does this belittle her countless athletic accomplishments? No. Look at Eric Lamaze’s battle with cocaine. Was this obstacle thrown in his face when he honoured our country with Olympic Gold?
No! Both of these incredible people have overcome their demons of the past through a commitment to athletics. Lets let Nathan have the same chance to find a place of value in the last 80 years of his life.
Who knows if Kotylak will ever make the Olympic team. What I do know is that Kotylak’s life will have drastic consequences if we choose to ban him from his sport of choice. Will society be better off if we remove this positive outlet from his life? No. This rambunctious kid must learn to channel his energy effectively. Sport is the best vessel to achieve a positive outcome.
A poignient summary of my opinion was written by Jeromie Williams at the Examiner.com.