Thursday, 15 December 2011

Can't We All Just Get Along?

It's hard to believe that with the number of festive seasons upon us in December that people still have to act like complete heathens when it comes to sports, especially when children are involved. I get that no one likes it when they lose, but I bring to you today another story of a person who has taken things just a little too far. And by "little", I mean the line he crossed is somewhere past the horizon in his rear-view mirror. A man in Winnipeg was convicted on Monday of assault and uttering threats to kill and criminal harassment for an incident that took place at his son's hockey game in December 2009.

Reportedly, the incident occurred at a Winnipeg arena in the canteen area. Paul Buchanan, the guilty party, had just finished watching his 12 year-old son's Fort Garry team defeat a team from St. Norbert, and found himself in a heated discussion with one of the parents from the St. Norbert team after making a snide remark about a player who Buchanan used to coach as part of the Fort Garry team, but was now part of the St. Norbert team.

This, of course, set the course of events in motion, and, after having both men say things they probably regret, Buchanan "angrily shoved the man into a wall, screamed obscenities at him and threatened to kill him". Keep in mind that the game is over, Buchanan's team won, and this is a game being played by 12 year-olds!

But it doesn't end there. Several parents tried to break up the fight, but one woman reported being punched in the breast by Buchanan. Eventually, Buchanan was escorted outside, but he waited for the parents outside where another fight broke out between the two men. After this scuffle was broken up, it was thought that insanity might be over.

Except it wasn't. Buchanan then had the nerve to go home, fire up the old computer, and bomb off a number of threatening emails to the St. Norbert father. He also phoned the woman he punched all night, making threats via phone, and it finally came to an end when the woman and her partner called the police well after midnight and filed a complaint against Buchanan.

"He was ranting and raving, yelling and swearing," she told the court during Monday's proceedings.

Now all of this evidence is pretty compelling in that it seems Buchanan might have a problem. For his part, Buchanan admitted that he may have overreacted with the number of phone calls made and the things said, and he told the court that he suffers from "social anxiety". He also said that alcohol and medication may have been partially to blame for his rage that night.

In his defence, he stated that he had been "humiliated" by what happened, and that he wanted to make things right in light of the events that had unfolded. He stated that he had not started the fight at the arena, and that he simply wanted to extend a friendly greeting before the St. Norbert father verbally and physically attacked him.

I'm not buying it. And Judge Robert Heinrichs? He didn't buy Buchanan's recollection of events either.

"His behaviour spiralled out of control. His evidence on what happened that day is not accepted. The conduct was completely reckless on his part," said Heinrichs.

Thanks to USA Hockey, we finally have an image of what the confrontation may have looked like. This is just an artist's rendition, mind you, but it seems to fit the profile of this case fairly well.
Relax, man. It's just a game being played by 12 year-olds.

Mr. Buchanan, your actions are, quite frankly, disgusting when considering that this was a game played by 12 year-olds, and I'm quite happy that Judge Heinrichs made it clear that this type of nonsense will neither be tolerated or condoned in the eyes of the law.

"Am I facing jail time? All over a 12-year-old hockey game?" Buchanan said loudly in court following the verdict. "Thanks, thanks a lot," he added to nobody in particular. While the Crown indicated that they won't seek custody of Buchanan over this incident, the only person that Mr. Buchanan has to thank is himself.

Good sportsmanship came with a heavy price on Monday for Mr. Buchanan, and I doubt he'll ever forget the cost associated with it.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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