Olympic rowing champ says banning rioter from sport unfair
Canadian rower Adam Kreek, a member of the men's Olympic rowing champion eight at the 2008 Beijing Games, thinks the public is going too far in its condemnation of junior water polo player Nathan Kotylak, who was photographed trying to set a police car on fire during the Vancouver riot.
Here's a public statement Kreek sent to the media:
Nathan Kotylak should not be banned from future international or Olympic competition. He is the unfortunate scapegoat of a frustrated public. What he did was detestable, but not enough to drown the life lessons he will learn, striving to compete on the world stage. If he is the best water polo player for the Canadian team, we should work with his strengths, not his weaknesses.
Should we ban Nathan from playing music? Expressing himself though poetry? Taking hikes in the woods? No! These activities, along with sport, are activities that strengthen and embolden the human spirit. They are the glue that holds our country – and our world – together.
Sport is a valuable building block of our society that channels the youthful and aggressive tendencies from kids like Nathan. Sport taught Nathan that there are rules that we must follow. He got it. He understands his fault. Why else would he repent on national television? How many people are out there who robbed, destroyed and pillaged, and have not repented? Don’t get me wrong, Nathan should still face consequences that are meaningful and relevant to his offence - volunteer work, fines, community building activities – but he should not be banned from his chosen sport.
If we ban Nathan from participating in Olympic sport, then we should ban all the rioters from doing the same. How does the exclusion of society members from a values-building activity like sport help us? The only reason I believe Nathan should be banned from his sport is if his aggressions are enough for the courts to send him to jail or convict him of an offence that would ban him from international travel. Period.
I was in Vancouver for the game and the aftermath. I chose to go for a canoe ride instead of attending the riot. Everyone who was there and did nothing to stop it is just as guilty as Nathan Kotylak.
Banning Nathan from sports competition is misplaced anger. Unproductive. Unintelligent. This goes down the road of taking sport away from the people that need it the most. Let's build more sports programs, not jails.