Hey Canada, This Sucks.

28 04 2011

Towle was named the Ottawa Citizen's Male Athlete of the Week in October 2009. (Photo credit: Bruno Schlumberger)

It’s hard to expect much from a nation that allows residents to wait for hours on end (sometimes a whole day!) in emergency rooms across the country, but I had hope for the great state up north before reading this Yahoo Sports article yesterday.

Canadian teen Andrew Towle, 19, a student at Ottawa Technical Learning Centre, made a name for himself in competitive (cross country) running — and hoped to best his second-place showing at last year’s national conference next season.

Unfortunately, the Ontario Federation of School Athletics Association has been barred from competing. Towle has not been deemed ineligible because of his age, but instead for his grade status– he has technically been a high school student for five (going on six) years.  OFSAA regulations state that students can only be active in competition for five years.

Towle, who has a mild form of autism, did not participate in athletics before his third year at OTLC. 

The Globe and Mail, the leading newspaper in Canada, printed three letters to the editor last week after readers of Towle’s situation.
One such concerned reader, Chris Wightman, said “Andrew Towle’s personal triumph and rise to athletic and academic success exemplifies the positive effects of sport in kids’ lives. The additional dimension regarding his autism is even more inspiring. 
Yet at their showcase athletics event, the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations is somehow equally determined to stand behind flawed eligibility rules. A rule that excludes by starting the eligibility stopwatch on academic participation, not athletic, seems pretty myopic. Starting high school and starting high school sports aren’t necessarily related.
It is a shame Mr. Towle’s inspiring efforts won’t be showcased further by the very organization that exists to do so.”

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It is unfortunate that Towle is being held back, given that his success on the track field lead to improvements in his social and academic lives as well. I think it is absolutely ridiculous that the five-year eligibility rule doesn’t begin when the student first enters the sport, instead of when they are first enrolled at a particular school.

I hope the folks up in Ottawa and all readers of the Globe and Mail make a ruckus and get this decision overturned! Andy Towle deserves the chance to shine and to make the most of his senior year — just like everyone else does.

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Related items :
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Comraderie fills Pate Stadium in Laurinburg, NC as 2011 Special Olympics begin

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