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Working up a sweat in dry communities

Sport tournaments suffer from players who won’t leave alcohol at home when competing in dry communities.

I spoke with four sports players this past week – two in person and two over social media – about how some sport tournaments in the Kivalliq are beginning to suffer from the use of drugs and alcohol at the event.

Three of the players I would deem star players in both hockey and softball, and one a very bright star in hockey only.

All four of the players expressed their disappointment with some of the behaviour they witnessed at the 2019 Calm Air Cup Jon Lindell Memorial (JLM) in Arviat in January.

The first thing you have to remember is that the majority of the Kivalliq’s seven hamlets are dry communities.

Like it or not it’s the law and, not only are too many people ignoring the law; they’re flagrantly ignoring it and that’s been drawing all the negative attention during the past year.

Empty booze bottles. Players see others drinking right in the area in dry communities. Pixabay photo

All four players said they saw people drinking right in the arena during the JLM in Arviat – and Arviat is a dry community – and two of them witnessed out-of-town players selling bottles in the arena, as well.

These guys aren’t party poopers either. Far from it, but they also don’t want to see any of the region’s tournaments get dropped over booze.

The Kivalliq Cup old-timers tournament suffered from excessive drinking among the players, and it was put on the bench for a good number of years.

A dedicated group have been working hard to try and revive the Kivalliq Cup during the past few years, but it’s been slow going.

The biggest problem, however, seems to be how many people are bootlegging during a number of tournaments.

That’s especially true and most damaging when players from visiting teams to a dry community bring more booze than sports equipment to make a nice little profit for themselves.

There’s an argument to be made that the visiting teams should be policing themselves — not looking the other way when some players try to take advantage of the situation for monetary gain.

One multi-sport player told me the whole thing was really starting to get to him; beginning to negatively affect his desire to compete and his love for playing.

Another said it’s reached the point where he’s starting to feel that any tournament these days seems to be a reason for alcohol- and drug-fueled weekends.

Harsh sentiments indeed, but they may show that a growing number of players are getting tired of looking the other way.

It’s a tough predicament to be in. You want to compete and be looked-upon favourably by people in the host community. But you’re being tarred by the same brush as those on your team who take advantage of others, or who play well below their abilities thanks to the remnants of the night before.

We have a number of excellent tournaments in the Kivalliq and the JLM is one of them.

It would be a crying shame if any of them were shut down by their hamlet due to the actions of those who can’t compete for a weekend without being involved with alcohol in one way or another.

Hopefully, this past year has been an exception rather than the rule and, moving forward, players will refrain from bringing alcohol into a dry community for any reason.

Not only is it the law, but it’s for the good of the sport and the community too.