Defending Kotylak is nonsense

Adam Kreek, a member of Canada's gold medal winning men's eight rowing team at the 2008 Beijing...

Adam Kreek, a member of Canada's gold medal winning men's eight rowing team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, has come out in defence of national water polo player Nathan Kotylak, outed as a Vancouver rioter. (QMI Agency)

STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:01 PM ET

TORONTO - Adam Kreek is an Olympic gold medallist, so when he issues a public statement, you notice — even if you can’t believe what you are reading.

A member of the Canadian men’s eights rowing team that won the gold at the 2008 Games, Kreek believes national junior water polo team athlete Nathan Kotylak — who was caught on video trying to torch a police car — has been unfairly condemned for his part in the Vancouver hockey riot earlier this month.

Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, but Kreek’s arguments make you wonder if he’s originally from London, Ont., or Planet Naboo.

The man was clearly wearing his rose-coloured glasses when he put this bit together. It makes you wonder what world this guy is living in.

Kreek began his statement with: “Nathan Kotylak should not be banned from future international or Olympic competition. He is the unfortunate scapegoat of a frustrated public.”

This is pure Fantasyland. A guy tries to torch a police car in the course of a riot, and he’s an “unfortunate scapegoat.” Incredible. None of those rioters are scapegoats, particularly a guy who tries to torch a police car.

As for the “frustrated public” part, well, I would suggest the public sentiment was more outrage than frustration. Most of the rioters — Kotylak included — weren’t anarchists or professional agitators, as many Vancouver apologists initially insisted, but regular citizens, some, like Kotylak, from privileged backgrounds.

Kreek: “What (Kotylak) did was detestable, but not enough to drown the life lessons he will learn, striving to compete on the world stage. If he is the best water polo player for the Canadian team, we should work with his strengths, not his weaknesses.”

Sure, once somebody pays his debt to society, he should be allowed to carry on with his life. On the other hand, Kotylak should not be treated any differently because he’s an elite athlete. A couple of Toronto radio guys suggested Kotylak should have the book thrown at him, made an example of, because he’s “a rich kid.” That’s wrong. Everybody should be treated the same, though you would think a kid with so much going for him would know better. What exactly made Kotylak so angry that he felt obliged to torch a police car? He isn’t hungry, unemployed or poor. Did he do it just for kicks?

Kreek: “Should we ban Nathan from playing music? Expressing himself though poetry? Taking hikes in the woods? No! These activities, along with sport, are activities that strengthen and embolden the human spirit. They are the glue that holds our country — and our world — together.”

If this isn’t naive, I don’t know what is. I suppose writing poetry and hiking in the woods emboldens the human spirit, but I would say, in most parts of the world, what really emboldens the human spirit is getting enough food to eat and safe water to drink, not hiking in the woods. And I would argue that sport and poetry is NOT the glue that holds a country together. That’s taking the importance of sport a little too far.

Kreek: “Sport is a valuable building block of our society that channels the youthful and aggressive tendencies from kids like Nathan. Sport taught Nathan that there are rules that we must follow. He got it.”

Obviously, Mr. Kreek, he didn’t get it.

Kreek: “He understands his fault. Why else would he repent on national television?”

He repented on national television because he was outed. He was caught on video. He was all over Youtube. That’s why he came forward. To suggest anything else is ridiculous. Kotylak was attempting damage control. He would have been even more vilified if he had tried to hide behind the Youth Criminal Justice Act. This was a preemptive strike, nothing more.

Kreek: “How many people are out there who robbed, destroyed and pillaged, and have not repented?”

Those who didn’t get caught red-handed.

Kreek: “Don’t get me wrong, Nathan should still face consequences that are meaningful and relevant to his offence — volunteer work, fines, community building activities — but he should not be banned from his chosen sport.”

Volunteer work, fines and community building activities are relevant to rioting and trying to torch a police car? Really?

Kreek: “If we ban Nathan from participating in Olympic sport, then we should ban all the rioters from doing the same. How does the exclusion of society members from a values-building activity like sport help us? The only reason I believe Nathan should be banned from his sport is if his aggressions are enough for the courts to send him to jail or convict him of an offence that would ban him from international travel. Period ... I was in Vancouver for the game and the aftermath. I chose to go for a canoe ride instead of attending the riot. Everyone who was there and did nothing to stop it is just as guilty as Nathan Kotylak.”

According to Kreek’s logic, if you witness a robbery and you don’t intervene, you should go to jail along with the robber.

Kreek: “Banning Nathan from sports competition is misplaced anger. Unproductive. Unintelligent. This goes down the road of taking sport away from the people that need it the most. Let’s build more sports programs, not jails.”

Yeah, let’s send all our criminals down to the YMCA and enroll them in intramural Four Square leagues. That’ll fix all society’s ills.

Incredible.

steve.buffery@sunmedia.ca

twitter @beezersun


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