Football: Saint Mary's-Acadia Loney Bowl will happen, but what about the Uteck Bowl?

Three days to heal up to play a very physical, much more rested Western Mustangs team reeks of a ritual sacrifice, but that's not for a court to decide.

Justice Deborah Smith has granted an interim injunction to Saint Mary's, which will compel Atlantic University Sport to hold the Loney Bowl between Acadia and SMU by no later than Tuesday. Justice Smith, who took just more than 10 minutes to outline her decision after considering two days of arguments from lawyers for Acadia, SMU and AUS, seemed to centre the decision on whether AUS followed its bylaws. Toward the end of Sunday's proceedings, Smith asked the counsel for AUS if its bylaws contained a provision for creating the executive committee which was responsible for cancelling the game last Thursday (right as Saint Mary's was seeing its first injunction in Ontario Superior Court against U Sports). The response of "it's not anywhere," amounted to a tacit admission that the conference overstepped its bounds.

This will be back in court soon enough, but it the game will be played.

The devil is in the details; but sometimes it's in the practical reality that is outside the purview of the court. The ruling puts the winning team in a scenario of playing twice in five days since the Uteck Bowl against Western is scheduled for Saturday. That's an unfair strain on NFL players, just ask Richard Sherman, never mind student-athletes. The ideal recovery period after a football game is six or seven days. Now it's been pared to three. It is still outside of a 72-hour rule that Football Canada has on the books (i.e., no team can play twice within 72 hours), but it cuts it awfully close.

That's the real scandal. The blame for that falls squarely on AUS and U Sports for the heavy-handed extralegal scramble drill that was conducted last Thursday after Saint Mary's began seeking its injunction in Ontario (read through the Twitter timelines of the on-the-ground reporters quoted below for background).

Any decision on Archelaus Jack never should have been left that late, and those who contend he was ineligible should be the most irate of all, since such an apparent walk-in touchdown turned into slipping, falling and fumbling the ball directly to the other team. It's as if the national body has too many marketing minds and not enough people working on rule enforcement. Or something.

I am in no position to critique Justice Smith's ruling. Saint Mary's motion was to compel AUS to re-schedule the Loney Bowl and, evidently, it had receipts on the status of Jack. Acadia's arguments that it could not possibly be ready to host a "world-class safe event" seemed like weak sauce to me when they were presented early Sunday — a self-fulfilling prophesy passed off as a legal argument. That contention was revealed as hollow after the ruling when the AUS lawyer said, oh, Acadia could host after all.

The crux of this post, though, is to wonder what will happen after the Loney Bowl, presuming it goes ahead on Tuesday as ordered by the court.

The possibility of a catastrophic injury is an ever-present reality in any sport that involves frequent collision or people leaving their feet at high rates of acceleration. The truncated turnaround puts the AUS team in heightened physical danger in the Uteck Bowl — as if it wasn't already up against it facing Western. That is very bad from a liability standpoint, and one wonders if AUS and U Sports are considering their options about the status of the Uteck.

The motion was about a conference championship game, and while AUS deserves a chance to face the rest of the country, in these circumstances is that really going to be as safe as it could be? Likely not, and that aforementioned 72-hour rule provides some legal fallback with liability, but this is a terrible situation.

A compromise might have been to push the Loney to Saturday and forfeit the Uteck Bowl to Western. Does AUS try to save face with such an action? Anything is possible never seemed like less of a throwaway phrase.

The court wasn't asked to consider that eventuality, so it didn't. The urgency of the situation likely proscribed either side pushing for it. Saint Mary's was just trying to get reinstated for the Loney Bowl, while Acadia and AUS argued the ship has sailed, ultimately in vain.

It's an ugly situation, made uglier by the dread that it won't lead to change in the national or regional governing bodies that completely created the crisis.
Next PostNewer Post Previous PostOlder Post Home


Post a Comment