Aug30FriBook Recommendation -- Why I Didn't Say Anything by Sheldon Kennedy August 30, 2019
A conversation at a kitchen table:
Son: Mom, I don't want to play hockey anymore!
Dad: What are you talking about? You love hockey!
Son: I don't want to play anymore; it's no longer fun!
Mom: Of course, you have fun!
Son: I don't want to go to any more tournaments!
Dad: You can't let your team down!
Son: I'm done!
Mom: Do you know how much money we have invested in your hockey! You can't quit now. You are headed to professionals.
Son: I don't like the coach!
Dad: Don't talk about your coach like that! Do you know how much that man has done for you boys! You are one of his favourite players! You be thankful – and show him your gratitude!
Can you not hear this conversation happening at dinner tables across North America! Certainly, as it relates to hockey, in hundreds of Canadian homes.
In 1996, Sheldon Kennedy rocked the insular world of Canadian hockey by announcing that his former minor-league coach, Graham James -- the Hockey News 1989 Man of the Year -- had sexually abused him more than 300 times. The media portrayed Kennedy as a hero for breaking the code of silence in professional hockey and bringing James to justice. The heroic myth intensified in 1998 when Kennedy announced that he was going to in-line skate from Newfoundland to British Columbia to raise awareness of sexual abuse. The skate raised over $1 million for Canadian Red Cross sexual abuse programs, and Kennedy settled in Calgary with his wife and young daughter. Anyone who has followed hockey in the last ten years is familiar with the story of ex-NHL player Sheldon Kennedy. As one of the most promising hockey talents to emerge from the Canadian minor leagues in the last two decades, Kennedy was destined for hockey greatness. But after he was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in 1988, he attracted more attention for his off-ice antics than for his contributions to the score sheet. Plagued by rumours of drug and alcohol abuse and a string of injuries, Kennedy drifted from team to team. The happy ending promised by the headlines never materialized. Still haunted by the demons of sexual abuse, Kennedy's life spiralled out of control.
Sheldon Kennedy did try to tell people in his life about the abuse he was experiencing at the hands of Graham James – but probably as any adolescent would. His attempts may have sounded very much like the conversation above. This book has opened the eyes of thousands of readers to the prevalence of abuse within the sport industry.
May we learn how to read in-between the lines of dinner table conversations. May we be able to recognize the indicators of childhood abuse. May we raise the bar of child protection within sport!
Sheldon's book, Why I Didn't Say Anything, is available on Amazon.