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Tasca's Take

Sign of the Times

Some fodder for those of you who believe in karma:

Meet 11-year-old Keila Penner. She’s a Senators fan, living in Montreal in a family of Senators fans. Her dad, Cary, used to live in Vanier.

Last Thursday, to celebrate the opening of the Montreal-Ottawa playoff series, students at Maple Grove Elementary School, just outside Montreal, were told they could ditch their uniforms and wear a Canadiens jersey. Penner wore her Senators jersey — with pride.

There was some taunting, the typical “Senators suck” verbal jabs ... then the kid was called into the principal’s office and given three options: Call her dad and go home, take the jersey off and put a white shirt on or put on a Canadiens jersey.

On the surface, the decision by Grove Elementary School officials to issue this ultimatum to young Keila Penner seems ludicrous. To force a child to ditch her favorite team's jersey on a day when other kids are wearing theirs strikes us as wrong on so many levels. But the fact of the matter is the school administrators did the right thing.

Sad as it may be, allowing a young girl to wear an Ottawa jersey in a Quebec school opens the door to various problems.  Even assuming Penner could handle the verbal abuse from the other kids, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that her presence in the jersey served as a major distraction.  It's hard enough for teachers to keep the attention of elementary school children in the classroom.  It's virtually impossible when these kids have a visual diversion in their midst. 

With that said, there's a more important reason why Penner was asked to remove her jersey.  The fact of the matter is school officials have a responsibility is to protect the children under their care.  It doesn't take much to provoke 11-year-old kids, and although most of the prodding may very well have been friendly in nature, all it takes is for one angry youngster to verbally or physically attack Penner.  It's not a pleasant thought, and although it seems like a remote possibility, educators at Grove obviously felt they couldn't afford to take that chance. 

This past Sunday, I attended Game 3 between the Islanders and Penguins at Nassau Coliseum.  Prior to the game, Islander fans tailgated in the parking lot for several hours.  Everyone was having a great time until a husky fellow wearing a Sidney Crosby jersey began strolling through the parking lot towards the arena.  As the man passed by the gauntlet of Islander fans who were playing street hockey and cooking hamburgers on their grills, he was peppered with hundreds of insults and expletives.  It was an incredible sight, really. 

At some point, the man decided he'd had enough.  He turned around and, with a threatening posture, approached a few of the fans who were lacing into him (some already intoxicated).  One of his friends was smart enough to grab him by the shirt and usher him along without incident.  But all the while, I couldn't help but think what could've happened had the man's friend not stepped in to diffuse the situation.

That's what the officials at Grove Elementary School did last Thursday.  And while it's very sad, that doesn't mean it wasn't the right thing to do.

Inevitably, it doesn't matter.  In a few days, Keila Penner will get the last laugh. 

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Comments

Avatar

I understand why this was done, but I think it is wrong on a whole lot of levels. Instead of punishing the kids that were acting inappropriately, they punished the girl who just wanted to support her team. How many kids later gave her more of a hard time because the principal made her take it off??

Posted by BlindseerJB on 05/08/13 at 04:04 PM ET

Da lil Guy's avatar

What are you teaching these kids about people with different beliefs, appearances, or opinions? If someone disagrees with the majority, they should be bullied until such time as someone in authority steps in and forces them to conform to the will of the crowd?

Qu├ębec is often subjected to criticism for its overzelous protection of its culture, which sometimes borders on the xenophobic.

Someone should be teaching these kids that its not the end of the world if someone cheers for the other team, and that disagreeing with someone on something as ultimately trivial as a sporting event doesn’t mean that they’re attacking you personally, and doesn’t mean it’s okay to attack them personally.

Instead of taking a teaching opportunity, the administrators of this school chose to justify the bullying, further isolate this poor girl, and try to take away her right to express herself. That’s awful. No matter how you try to justify it.

Good on Eugene Melnyk for salvaging this situation by bringing her to Ottawa to see the Sens beat the Habs.

Posted by Da lil Guy from Guelph, Ontario on 05/08/13 at 04:20 PM ET

shanetx's avatar

...or put on a Canadiens jersey.

Whaaaaat?  That was really an option?

I want to know more!  Do they have Canadiens jerseys ready to go at all times?

Posted by shanetx from Floydada, Texas on 05/08/13 at 04:20 PM ET

Guilherme's avatar

Instead of punishing the kids that were acting inappropriately, they punished the girl who just wanted to support her team

Exactly. You either allow any jersey or no jersey at all.

Also, if a hockey jersey is a visual distraction, I’m pretty sure every kid was already pretty distracted by wearing a Canadiens one.

How many kids later gave her more of a hard time because the principal made her take it off??

This, too. They already knew she was an Ottawa fan, it’s not like taking the jersey off would change anything. And the obligation is just another reason to mock her.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 05/08/13 at 04:27 PM ET

Guilherme's avatar

the administrators of this school chose to justify the bullying

On typical internet hyperbole, blame the rape victim for wearing a short skirt.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 05/08/13 at 04:28 PM ET

SYF's avatar

the administrators of this school chose to justify the bullying

On typical internet hyperbole, blame the rape victim for wearing a short skirt.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 05/08/13 at 04:28 PM ET

Ownage.

Posted by SYF from Zata's Epic Viking Beard on 05/08/13 at 04:37 PM ET

Avatar

Are you seriously comparing a bunch of adult, intoxicated hockey fans who have spent $100s on tickets to a bunch of 11-year-olds playing on the monkey bars?  My god, man, put this situation in a proper context.

Posted by MrMontagoose on 05/08/13 at 04:58 PM ET

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Hilarious blog entry.  This Tasca guy might be funnier than the Chief…

Wonderful satire, sir.

Posted by Garth on 05/08/13 at 05:24 PM ET

Avatar

Where you from iran north korea cuba?

Posted by jkm2011 on 05/08/13 at 05:42 PM ET

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About Tasca's Take

Tasca's Take is written by Joe Tasca. Born and raised in Westerly, Rhode Island, Joe works as a broadcaster for seven radio stations in southern New England. Whether that's a testament to his on-air ability or because he has a desparate need for money is debatable.

Joe spends his summers playing golf, enjoying the beauty of Misquamicut Beach, and wining and dining girls who are easily awed by the mere presence of a radio personality. During the winter months, he can usually be found taking in a hockey game somewhere in North America. In the spring, he spends much of his time in botanical gardens tiptoeing through the tulips, while autumn is a time to frolic with his golden retrievers through piles of his neighbors’ leaves.