A SUNDAY READ: What both sides are saying in the emotional debate regarding BC School Sports’ proposal for a new power structure in BC high school sports!
March 14, 2021
by Howard Tsumura
LANGLEY — Varsity Letters is presenting both sides of the debate leading up to the pivotal voting day on B.C. School Sports’ pioneering governance proposal, set for the association’s May 1 annual general meeting.
If passed by a two-thirds majority plus-one vote of the province’s eligible base of 460-plus athletic directors, all 19 of BCSS’ member sports — including football, wrestling, boys rugby, and boys and girls basketball, volleyball, track and field, cross-country and soccer — would be brought together wholly under the umbrella of the association’s administration.
For over one year, I along with the rest of the BC Secondary Schools Rugby Union Executive have been deeply concerned about a proposed change to the way BC School Sports is governed which is coming up for a vote after Spring Break. If adopted, my main fear is that the sport of rugby would be completely unrepresented in a new “Legislative Assembly” which is being proposed and that even worse, we would lose virtually all of our ability to regulate, improve and make key decisions about the future of high school rugby in this province.
Quite frankly, as your Commissioner, I would be deeply ashamed of myself if I let down all of you and especially the people who came before me by not standing up for our sport.
However, I am just one volunteer and nothing more. Therefore, for over one year I have worked with everyone, including the Executive Director, Staff and Board of BC School Sports to prevent and mitigate any negative changes which might affect high school rugby, such as losing the right to elect our own Executive, determine the structure of our Provincial Championships and to always make decisions which are in the best interests of the student-athletes and coaches who are at the heart of our sport.
Despite frequent calls (and even one of 90 minutes) to BC School Sports, emails, repeated Zoom meetings and every type of appeal you can imagine, BCSS has now officially sent out its final package which would actually eliminate all of our Sport Commissions, including rugby, and replace them with appointed “Sport Advisory Committees” which have no real authority or ability to make decisions. Therefore, a total of 15 Sport Commissions have now gone officially on record by signing the attached letter to the Principals and Athletic Directors of BC who will ultimately be voting on this proposal.
Please take time to read the attached letter and feel free to contact me, including over Spring Break, if you have any further questions. I urge you to talk to your Athletic Director and urge him or her to vote NO to the new governance model which is being proposed.
There is a lot at stake, not just for our sport but for all sports, which is why the overwhelming majority of sports in this province have now come together.
Walter van Halst
Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary
Commissioner, BC Secondary Schools Rugby Union
Cell: (778) 855-9937
I think we all knew this was coming, but now it's official. BC School Sports has officially cancelled the Spring Season of Play in all schools for this year. Attached is a memo from Jordan Abney, the Executive Director of BC School Sports.
In addition, our Scholarship Chair, Ian McPhee has asked me to pass along a note that obviously, without either a season or a provincial championship taking place this year, the BCSSRU will not be awarding any scholarships this season. Of course, once life, school and sports all return to normal, and we all can't wait for that, we will be delighted to do so again.
Finally, as mentioned in Jordan Abney's memo, it's important to note that a controversial new governance proposal for BC School Sports has been put on hold for now. Essentially, the proposal would centralize a great deal of authority, if not all of it, from all the existing 19 member Sport Commissions, and I can tell you in the over 10 years I have volunteered with the BC Secondary Schools Rugby Union, I have never seen so many different sports such as basketball, football, soccer, rugby and so on agree so strongly about how wrong and impractical that would be.
So, as it stands, there will be a virtual BC School Sports AGM sometime in June, but the critical issue of what the future of all high school sports looks like going forward has been postponed for now. At the appropriate time, when we are all dealing with far less serious issues than we are today, I will be sending all of you more details about that.
For now, sadly, the main news is that there will not be a Provincial Championship for BC High School Boys Rugby for the first time since the strike-shortened year of 1987, but that is to be expected.
Please take care, and take care of those you know who may need support at this time.
Walter van Halst
To: All Sr. Boys Rugby Coaches
In preparation for the upcoming AGM on Saturday please review the meeting Agenda. The AGM will take place at the Sr. School Campus of St. George’s School, which is located at 4175 W.29th Ave in Vancouver. The meeting will take place in Room # 103 from 12:15 to approximately 2:30 pm.
Walter van Halst