by Joe Tasca on 05/08/13 at 03:00 PM ET
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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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.