Sports with Patrick Townes
The Houston Astros are your 2022 World Series champions.
As sad as it is to see baseball gone for a season, there are still lots of sports on the go. As predicted, the Astros made it to the final in the American League, and it is fair to say that the Phillies were a surprise team in the National League. Although, once you get to the playoffs in the major leagues, you are a good team and everyone has a chance to win the title. The Dodgers did not have enough juice to make the final despite all their fire power and payroll. The Astros had a great balance between their hitting, pitching and defence – and a fantastic bullpen. For teams looking to make that next step, look no farther than the makeup of a champion. It clearly demonstrates what areas of a team need to be strong in order to beat the best.
Obviously the Astros were heavily critiqued for their previous role in cheating in the game of baseball. The newly-implemented pitch calling system appeared to work this season. It is still a rather bizarre thing that pitches get relayed to the pitcher and defensive players through an ear piece — sport will adapt to rule changes and technology as they become available. Did they win this win fair and square?
There has been a lot of talk recently about how to get more teams in curling playing at a competitive level. The big issue as with many sports is that the big teams beat up on the mid-tier teams and there is no room for growth or development.
What is the solution to this? Not only for curling, but other sports really need to look at a tiered approach. This ensures that players are playing against others with similar skill sets and abilities. So why isn’t there a B-flight or C-flight when it comes to national championships? For example a team from Yukon could be ranked in the C event rather than going to the Brier. This system allows the best teams in the country to play in the A event and represent the country at other events. A team like Gushue gains nothing from playing a lesser qualified team in the Brier and that team also gains nothing from playing the A-level team.
The other issue with curling is that amateur curlers are no longer taking advantage of local or Provincial events. The Colts was designed for amateur players to have a chance to win a patch and other similar events. Now teams just see the events on television and want to strive for that or nothing.
One sport that has it figured out in terms of different levels is slo-pitch. They have different events and levels of national championships. I have to hazard a guess that slo-pitch is the most popular organized team sport in the province. All ages play and all abilities. The game is also modified so that people can play the game longer. All sports should look at a similar setup in order to get more teams and more participants.
OMHA OFFERS 170 SETS OF FREE EQUIPMENT TO HELP NEW HOCKEY FAMILIES ACROSS THE PROVINCE
The Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) is excited to announce the recipient communities across the province that have received free equipment to the start of the season designed to encourage new hockey families to try out the sport.
In the program known as Player and Goalie Assist, selected Associations are given full sets of free CCM player and goalie equipment to loan out to young players to use as needed. The equipment is sized for U9 and Below age groups. A total of 70 Associations were selected to each receive a full set of goalie gear, and 10 Associations received 10 full sets of player gear (100 total).
These Assist programs make it easier for new hockey families to fall in love with the sport without facing any financial barriers or having to make the commitment of purchasing new equipment. Each set of equipment can be used by the local Association at its discretion, either loaning it out for the season or giving directly to players to keep as needed.
Watch video: https://youtu.be/pi0VzVkgdsk
“The Player Assist and Goalie Assist programs have been able to make our sport more equitable,” said Karly Maurice, U9 Convenor with Penetanguishene Minor Hockey, one of dozens of Associations receiving the equipment.
“Eliminating that burden of cost in that equipment means that we have more members that are joining who aren’t traditionally hockey families, so it’s really helping grow our Association,” added Maurice.
Meghan Boucher is a hockey parent, who’s young son Josh is using the goalie equipment provided after expressing interest in being a netminder.
“When Josh came to me and said he wanted to be a goalie, my first reaction was panic,” Boucher said, as she contemplated many factors including having to buy new goalie equipment.
“This program gives us the opportunity to try it at least. Not having to purchase equipment was huge. To give him that chance to go out and be goalie is great,” said Boucher.
Each year, Maurice’s Association runs a popular equipment swap before each new hockey season and they’ve seen how important it is to offer opportunities for parents to save money.
“It might not necessarily mean they are taking every single piece of equipment. They’re coming in for what they need and leaving with what they need. It really helps our younger players who are constantly going through growth spurts,” said Maurice.
All Associations were encouraged to apply for the Assist programs. The OMHA previously ran Player and Goalie Assist programs, however, this is the first year the two programs were run at the same time.
“Programs like Player Assist and Goalie Assist are crucial in helping our Associations remove some of the challenges in bringing young players into the game,” said OMHA Executive Director Ian Taylor. “We hope that these programs can help alleviate some stresses within our communities and encourage new families to try out hockey.”
The full sets of equipment include:
Goalie Assist: catcher, blocker, chest protector, pads, stick, bag
Player Assist: shin pads, pants, shoulder pads, elbow pads, gloves, helmet, neck guard
LOCAL ASSOCIATIONS RECEIVING FREE GOALIE EQUIPMENT
ASSOCIATIONS RECEIVING FREE PLAYER EQUIPMENT
ASSOCIATIONS RECEIVING BOTH FREE GOALIE AND PLAYER EQUIPMENT