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The only time I’ll ever mention golf

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There’s a lot of golf talk in high school sports these days, along with what seems to be a very sensible proposal to require badminton players to wear eye protection.

Now that my kids are in university, I don’t check out the Manitoba High Schools Athletic Association website as regularly as once I did, but recomembered to give it a looksee today. And what do I find but a link to notices of motion for this summer’s annual general meeting, to be held in Russell June 19 to 21, which you can find listed in detail here.

Golf is just about the only activity my kids didn’t play in high school, but there are several motions about golf, one of which notes that golf is the only MHSAA provincial championship which doesn’t allow for wild cards.

As in any sport, any given year, the second-best may come from the same zone as the eventual champion, so it seems to make sense to have a wild card.

There is also a motion which would allow a high school to send an outstanding individual golfer, even if that school’s team didn’t qualify for the provincials. Since there’s an award for best individual golfer both genders, it again seems to make sense to allow a top golfer to go in what is one of the most individual of sports.

Yes, I know, I’m aware that I know pretty much absolutely nothing about golf, but when has lack of knowledge ever stopped me from expounding on a subject? I’m writing on the Internet, so by definition I have expertise.

Back to the topic......One motion notes that the provincials in golf seem to draw some golfers who somehow managed to win their zone despite rather high scores, which slows up play, and proposes a qualifying score for the provincials. The motion calls for qualifiers to bring in a score under double-par at the course at which their zone tournament was contested — one assumes that means that if par was 72, they needed to shoot at least a 143. Do I have that right, I’m asking the many golfers among my followers?

That again seems sensible. That’s akin to letting someone run the 3,000 metres at the provincial track and field meet, who couldn’t run faster than I can.

As for badminton, if you’ve watched good quality badminton, that thing can really move, and the narrow end of a shuttlecock is hard and rubbery. Eye protection sounds as though it’s long overdue.

My kids spent every April competing in badminton, though provincials always seemed to conflict with the nationals in club volleyball, and I was happier when they were in singles than in doubles. Every time I watched doubles, I thought every play was like totally so close to someone’s getting whacked upside the head by his or her partner, or getting his or her nose grossly mashed by a racquet.

Oh, right, the MHSAA also wants to increase fees, adding to the base rate a levy of $1 per high school student in each zone, which would be worth $62,000 or so.

OK, we’ve dredged that one dry, let’s find another subject......

Here’s one of those nifty insider’s tips: getting media coverage of an evening speech is tricky at the best of times — staffing, deadlines — but letting us know a tad earlier than late afternoon of the same day on which you hold the event might be a good move.

And moving on....

I’ve said before that sometimes it’s the positive and harmless stories that get me into trouble. But while teachers sometimes get miffed about what I’ve written about their projects, or snippy because there wasn’t enough in the paper about it, it’s pretty unusual to get grief from a teacher who isn’t involved, especially before I’ve even written the story.

I’m at a high school with one of our world-class FP photojournalists doing a story on a particularly innovative fundraising project happening two days later, and over comes this other teacher who wasn’t part of the story, claiming our photog couldn’t possibly have all the students framed in his shot the way he’s setting up, and telling him he has to handle his photos differently.

I’m in my 40th year in the business, I don’t ever tell photojournalists how to do their job, and I recognize the peril in which this teacher has placed herself, and so I sidle across to position myself between her and my colleague. Getting on a photojournalist’s case is way beyond the risk level of sword-fighting with Zorro, spitting into the wind, pulling the mask off the Lone Ranger, tugging on Superman’s cape, and even messing around with Jim isn’t in the same league.

Then she demands to know if the story will be in today’s paper. No, I say, that, um, today’s would be the paper that got published overnight and got delivered prior to 7 a.m. this very day, so no, it won’t be in today’s paper. It could run tomorrow or the next day, says I.

And at that she explodes: "The next day? How are we supposed to sell tickets if you don’t run it until the day after tomorrow?"

Um, maybe because it’s not our job to sell tickets?


It was an anniversary for me this past Thursday, six years since Safe Schools Manitoba terminated our professional relationship. In those six years, I can’t recall having been informed about the programs, services, events, opinions, advice, and comments of the public agency.

Moving on to another topic......

I’ve been hearing a lot of talk on the radio about the royal wedding. So, how come if I went around doing atrocious fake accents of just about any nationality or ethnocultural group on the planet, I’d be denounced as a racist, and rightly so, but it’s somehow OK to do appallingly awful English accents?

And while I’m on this particular rant, scone rhymes with gone or John, not with zone or bone. Harumph.

Next topic.....

I was working nights and was dispatched to the federal election rally of the Communist Party of Canada, which attracted a turnout of 18 party enthusiasts — back in the day, two-thirds of the crowd would have been undercover agents from various police, security, and counterintelligence operations — and one comrade asked me if I’d be printing truth or lies about Libya in the next morning’s paper.

Actually, I couldn’t remember an assignment from my editors that day that included Libya, but I made a mental note that when we held our evening briefing of the Global Media Conspiracy, I’d check whether we were going with truth or lies that particular evening.

And once the meeting got started, after national Communist leader Miguel Figueroa got back from his smoke break, my Spidey-sense went off, as I remain ever-vigilant for signs of ageism.....Figueroa apologized for dating himself by referencing a Bruce Cockburn song.

Bruce Cockburn? Knowing a Bruce Cockburn song is now a sign of old age? Elvis I’ll give you, Buddy Holly I’ll give you, Rosemary Clooney on the Arthur Godfrey Show I’ll give you, I can even remember Johnny Ray, but Bruce Cockburn?


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About Nick Martin

Nick Martin is the old bearded guy at the back of the newsroom, the most experienced reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press, having started his career in Ontario in 1971.

He’s been covering education for the Free Press since the spring of 1997, after decades primarily covering municipal politics, including a four-year stint at the Ontario legislature for the London Free Press.

Nick moved to Manitoba in 1988 with his Winnipeg-born wife, who is a professor at the University of Manitoba. They have two kids, both of whom graduated from Grant Park High School: son Chris and daughter Gillian.

Nick has won a national journalism award from the Canadian Association of University Teachers, two Manitoba Human Rights Journalism awards, and the Ontario Reporters Association investigative award.

Nick is a long-distance runner, having finished and survived 18 marathons and 15 half-marathons and 30-kilometre races, and having (barely) survived 10 years as an outdoor and indoor soccer coach.

Nick became a soccer referee in 2007, delighting in his 60s in outrunning 16-year-olds and keeping his distance from obstreperous coaches and parents.

Nick and his wife have discovered a mutual love for kayaking at their Whiteshell cottage, and are both regulars at the Reh-Fit Centre. They hold season tickets to both the Manitoba Theatre Centre and the Warehouse, and as empty nesters, have rediscovered the joys of an active winter vacation.

A native of Jarrow-on-Tyne, England, Nick is a member of the Toon Army as a Newcastle United supporter, and a proud citizen of Leafs Nation.

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