A day before the leadership of Hockey Canada was set to resume testifying to the standing committee on Canadian Heritage addressing allegations of sexual misconduct among its players, the organization released an action plan to address “toxic behaviour.”
For one University of Guelph sport management researcher, the timing is too late.
Dr. Ann Pegoraro is the Lang Chair in Sport Management in the Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics and a professor in the Department of Management. She is also the co-director of the National Network for Research on Gender Equity in Canadian Sport and the director of the International Institute for Sport Business and Leadership.
“It should’ve been out earlier,” she says of the action plan. “And the timing of the release is a bit suspect,” she adds, noting the recommended changes are long-awaited.
The revelation that Hockey Canada has paid millions to victims alleging sexual misconduct points to a reckoning with exceptionalism in sport – the notion that organizations and elite athletes are excused from bad behaviour and accountability in how they govern themselves, she says.
Such actions have become normalized within sport, she adds.
Hockey Canada’s leadership has thus far shown no accountability amid the organization’s sexual misconduct scandal, she says. If the organization wants to regain the trust of Canadians, Pegoraro believes its leadership needs to resign.
“You really can’t solve problems like this when you have the same people and mindsets that created the problems in the first place,” she says.
Instead, there should be more diversity throughout all sport management levels, she says, adding change will need to start at a grassroots level before working its way across the system.
“We are hitting that tipping point where we need to take a hard look at how our system is structured, how we fund sport, and the win-at-all-costs mentality we’ve built into sport,” she adds.
Pegoraro has discussed the unfolding Hockey Canada scandal with several media outlets, including Shift – NB on CBC Radio Saint John, and The Bill Kelly Show on 900 CHML. She is available for interviews.
Dr. Ann Pegoraro