My husband and I were sitting on the edge of our seat, at home, on Sunday night, December 8th, listening to the final class ‘A’ game on the radio… that was so awesome! Did we ever enjoy it! Not only did we feel part of the crowd, yelling “wouah, wouah,” but I bet these two goalies must have felt all the support from their respective fans all over James Bay. And the commentators really created a splendid atmosphere in our living room. Thanks a lot.

However, I was left with a sour taste of the tournament (which I followed each step of the way, by phone) and I will call the following comments “a constructive criticism” addressed to the CNIT committee members.

I’m writing about the way you handle protests during the course of the tournament. Now, to begin with, remember that you drafted the rules of CNIT tournament, and teams follow them. I’m referring to the broomball team Chisasibi Stars who presented their first protest after their first game. A goal post shot was called by the referee as a regular goal; the Stars lost the game 1-0. Now, from the help of many witnesses, a videotape of the game, they decided to go ahead and put a protest on that goal. The team went through the procedure of “protest rule,” from the rules set by CNIT tournament organizers ($100 deposit – consultation of CNIT committee members – vote of the committee) so, the CNIT committee having met, discussed, voted and came up with the following conclusion; after a vote by majority of its members in favor of the protest. You win but for some reasons, a little while after the committee decided to meet again, and the result of the second meeting was ruled against their protest. Now, if CNIT committee were to rule in favor of the referee’s call (goal or not) why did you meet again, after a democratic vote of majority was done?

Second protest: Chisasibi Stars played the semi-final game and lost. However, they noticed that the opponent team only had 8 players on the ice at the end of that game, moreover one of the players was 17 years old; again a protest was brought up to the CNIT committee office, this time, protesting on CNIT tournament rules no. e) and f) *9) which states:

e) The age limit for hockey and broomball categories is 18 years and older. In order to participate in the tournament, all players must provide a valid identification upon demand.

f) If a team is caught with an underage player, the team in question will be expelled from the remainder of the tournament. The team will be automatically disqualified and will lose their inscription fee.

9) Note: Five players and a goalie OR six players are required to start the game. Teams are required to have the minimum number of players (10) before the end of the game or lose by forfeit.

Again, the same procedure was done for the protest and again, the CNIT committee met, discussed, voted and rules in favor of the Chisasibi Stars and again the Stars were told that they won the protest and that the opponent team had lost the semi-finals by disqualification (according to CNIT rules). Again, for whatever reason, one CNIT committee member went back to the Chisasibi Stars team and started the following negotiation: asking for the team to change their mind about their protest, and then went on offering them $$$ to let the opponent go to the finals! The Stars refused to be bought, arguing that they wanted to give it a shot at the ultimate goal of this tournament which is the Championship! (at this stage of the tournament, money is a bonus – pride is the winning goal). Again the CNIT committee member insisted with his argument telling them that “OK then, if you don’t want the money, the CNIT committee will have to meet again, and if you win the protest, you will probably end up playing the final game at the end of the tounament, or losing the protest and the money we are offering you right now…”. The argument went on and, the Chisasibi Stars eventually cracked under such pressure tactic, they took the cash and went home without pride! Now, my ultimate question is: what kind of negotiation is that? Are we in a political rink here, or at a friendly but serious Cree Hockey and Broomball Tournament? I don’t get it, what kind of message are we passing on here to our national sport.

As a big fan of hockey and broomball, minor and senior, not only do I disagree with such practice, but I’m questioning the credibility of CNIT tournament working hard to get a prestige image. May I remind you that anywhere, in any sports, rules are there to be respected, protest rule is made available for participating teams to exercise their legitimate right to protest. A democratic vote is used to reach final decision to be respected as well…

And last but not least, what about the young generation of players coming up, who are just learning about respect and rules, what message are we giving them here?

On behalf of the members of the Chisasibi Stars broomball team and on all the teams trying their best to bring back home the championship title, fair and square, I sincerely hope that these situations will be corrected and will not happen again in the future.

A big fan, Dolores Audet-Washipabano