Lack of Accountability Killing British Game

As if British hockey hadn’t already received enough of a bloody nose on the international stage, losing to ‘inferior’ nations like Croatia and Lithuania at the recent World Championships, it has now come to light the Under 20 side will be relegate from Division 1B after registering an ineligible player for the tournament in December.

Blue liner Adam Jones was ‘mistakenly’ registered for Team GB for the competition in Dumfries, and when the U18 tournament rolled around the error was discovered.

So what’s the outcome of this? Who is accountable? And what will be done?

Nothing apparently. British hockey in a nutshell.

Ice Hockey UK interim chairman, Jim Anderson, released a statement following the IIHF’s decision to relegate Team GB U20 to Division 2A for the 2015 season:

This was an unfortunate but genuine and honest mistake which was realised when the player was selected to play for GB U18s.

In future IHUK will double its due diligence on players who are chosen for GB squads.

Oh, an honest mistake? Well I suppose that is better than a deliberate one…

The fact this has happened at all has left fans in something of an ‘if I didn’t laugh I’d cry’ scenario. Whilst GB U20 hardly set the tournament alight, finishing 5th, such an egregious oversight is almost unforgivable when you factor in the length of time potentially available to think about a roster from one year to the next. Heck, you can start thinking about your next roster as soon as a given years tournament is over – ask the questions; what did we learn? Who can we bring back? Who should we bring back? Who else is coming through? Know your talent pool, know your options. Clearly we don’t.

But no one will be accountable for this, no one will fall on their sword. Talk of ‘honest mistakes’ and ‘it’s hard to be harsh on volunteers’ are wishy washy at best – reality is the Brit game is failing because lax attitudes such as this. A View from the Bridge host Patrick Smyth and I aired many of our grievances with the domestic game on this weeks podcast. But this takes the biscuit.

It should be completely unacceptable for something like this to happen. This isn’t a club side racing to register a player on a Friday night so they can play at the weekend. This is a national side who have had months to select and vet its players. As much as I am sure those voicing their concerns over this error are ‘piling on’ to someone who already feels bad, they are legitimate concerns about the way the game is being run.

But again, there is no accountability here. As with so many aspects of the game, no one will have to ‘answer for’ a very public embarrassment. But then, this is the sport where the Elite League chairman can also be a team owner, where we’re told there is no money in the game despite thousands upon thousands of pounds flowing in and out of the sport every season. We continue to sink on the international stage, and the professionalism of the sport is tested frequently year in, year out. But no one has to answer for it. No one has to field the tough questions or make the hard decisions, and stand by them if it goes wrong. The sport is more sand than head now.

As long as the British game continues to amble along like a glorified pub league things will not progress either; money will be frittered away and mistakes like this will continue to dog the sport.

At some point the proverbial bull needs to be taken by the horns and we need to ask for more. Because as long as we roll over and accept it, the sport here will stay in the shadows.

If you do what you always did, you get what you always got.

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About Rob

Software engineer by day, Elite League Media man by night, Rob also blogs about cricket for One Stump Short, hockey for In Goal Magazine and video games for Outpost Delta as well as hosting the One Stump Short Podcast.

Posted on April 29, 2014, in British Hockey, Hockey, Team GB and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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