Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Olympics Kill The Dream

Intramural sports are supposed to be fun. It's about getting together with friends and teammates, having a laugh while doing some activity, and enjoy the majesty of sport. Occasionally, one will find someone who decides that intramurals are their Stanley Cup, Super Bowl, or World Cup, but those athletes are usually put in their places fairly quickly by the vast majority of participants. Tonight, though, it seems that one high-caliber athlete who loves the game of hockey won't be able to have fun playing the game she loves because someone in her intramural league has a problem with losing to her.

Former Canadian Olympic goaltender and Wisconsin Badgers netminder Ann-Renee Desbiens went to Twitter tonight to express her disbelief over a decision made in her intramural league at the University of Wisconsin where she's currently a student.
It seems a little hard to believe that she would be banned, but it's true that she is no longer allowed to participate in the intramural hockey league at the university. Being that she's a goaltender, she wouldn't have been banned for a dirty play or for some sort of penalty accumulation I would think, so this seems like something else is afoot here. Desbiens followed up questions with her own thoughts on the situation.
And that's the jumping off point for this article because who in their right mind complains that a player is too good in intramural sports? Further to that, who complains about being beaten by an Olympic goaltender in forcing said goaltender to be banned from the league?

The first step was to take a look at the league, and it was a relief to see that University of Wisconsin posts their intramural results and information online publicly! In searching for Miss Desbiens' team, I discovered that she is a part of the The Routers who play in the Open A division. Including tonight's results, The Routers are 5-0-0 in this intramural season, and they're scheduled to play The Gulls on Thursday in the first game of the playoffs.

That last portion of the above paragraph is important when it comes to their upcoming opponent. Why, you ask? Well, the Routers and the Gulls met earlier this season on Tuesday, February 19. It was the third game that Ann-Renee Desbiens played for The Routers, and she and her teammates hung an 8-0 loss on The Gulls in that game. It was also the last game that Desbiens played for The Routers as she missed the next game and was banned from playing tonight.

Now some will say that the evidence is circumstantial, and I wouldn't disagree. After all, she helped The Routers down Frosted Mitts 7-1 and CapsYear by a 6-0 score, so it's not like there haven't been scores that have reflected her abilities in the nets before the game against The Gulls. However, the last game she played in before there was any mention of being banned was against The Gulls, and The Gulls are the scheduled opponents of The Routers in the playoffs. Please tell me that this can't be just sour grapes from one team, can it?

Well, it's not. The University of Wisconsin-Madison Rec Services Intramural Sports Handbook actually takes into consideration the potential for Olympic and professional athletes participating in intramural sports at the school. Page 5 of the handbook has a section that specifically addresses this situation. It reads,
It's pretty clearly stated that Olympians who have participated at the Olympic Games are not permitted to take part in the intramurals in the sport in which they participated at the Olympics, and it should be noted that Ann-Renee Desbiens played in the opening game for Canada at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics when she posted a shutout against Russia. That one game in the Olympics makes her ineligible to play intramural hockey, and it seems that whoever filed the complaint to have Desbiens excluded from the league knew the handbook's rules well.

As much as this seems unfair and rather ridiculous to enforce, Desbiens' intramural season for hockey is officially over as she is officially banned from taking part in any intramural hockey games for the remainder of her time at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The rules are there and her team should have known them prior to her signing up, but it seems someone overlooked her one appearance in Pyeongchang that made her ineligible.

It's unfortunate that the biggest start of her career in South Korea prevents her from playing for fun in Wisconsin, but rules are rules. Unfortunately.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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