Tweedsmuir running back Noah Anderson, the football clearly out of his hands (seen by his left knee), crosses the one-yard line as he runs for a touchdown in a game in November 2019. The governance of high school football and mostly all other high school sports is changing after a pivotal vote May 1. (Photo: Malin Jordan)

Tweedsmuir running back Noah Anderson, the football clearly out of his hands (seen by his left knee), crosses the one-yard line as he runs for a touchdown in a game in November 2019. The governance of high school football and mostly all other high school sports is changing after a pivotal vote May 1. (Photo: Malin Jordan)

Massive change coming to B.C. high school sports

New governance model passed at B.C. School Sports AGM; high school sport commissions to be ‘phased out’

Big changes are coming to high school sports.

B.C. School Sports (BCSS) won its governance proposal vote at their AGM May 1 and this will immediately change the way high school sports is run in this province. The vote passed 212-77, garnering the required two-thirds majority of votes.

As of May 2, the 20 sport commissions in B.C. and their many volunteers are basically out as decision-makers for their respective sports. But some of the commissions are legal entities and it’s unknown what they will do moving forward, or what type of influence they’ll have.

Paul Eberhardt, treasurer for the boys high school basketball commission, has already indicated his commission will continue to work in the best interests of boys basketball, whether it be from inside the new system or from outside.

“We are very disappointed that the BCSS Governance proposal was adopted,” Eberhardt told the Cloverdale Reporter via email. “We do not believe this is what is best for high school sport in this Province. Our Association has been around for 75 years, and we are certainly not going away. We will continue to work hard on behalf of all our coaches and student-athletes to make sure their voices are heard.”

Jordan Abney, BCSS executive director, said he’s thrilled the proposal passed.

“It was a lot of years of work from a lot of different people,” he said. “It was a very strong mandate and clear message about the direction the membership wants to go.”

SEE ALSO: Farhan Lalji chats about the new B.C. high school sports governance proposal

Abney said he was surprised at the “big margin” by which the vote passed. The proposal needed 66.7 per cent of “yes” votes and ended up getting 73 per cent. Usually there are about 450 schools registered with BCSS, but Abney said a number of smaller schools didn’t pay their fees this year as there were no high school sports due to COVID. He said there were only 375 fee-paying member schools that were eligible to vote.

“Of that, there were six abstentions and 80 schools didn’t vote,” he explained. “So, 295 of 375 schools participated. Given the fact that this was probably the single largest vote in the 53-year history of the organization, it also explains the need for a bit of a tweak from a governance perspective, as well.”

Abney said there were 247 advance ballots cast and only 48 ballots cast at the AGM.

He said BCSS already has all the paperwork prepared and ready to go out the door so the next steps toward this sweeping change will begin immediately.

“The legislative assembly will come together quickly. The transition from the commissions to the SACs (sport-advisory committees) will also help with zone reps—we have invites going out to various commissioners—and other committees will be formed.”

He said he wants to get all the wheels in motion before the summer break, adding the new governance system will mean business as usual for student athletes.

POWER STRUGGLE: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

“I don’t think the student athlete experience is going to change drastically, especially for the high-profile sports,” Abney explained. “We’re hoping to continue to maintain the status and level of the high-profile sports and to elevate the experience for athletes in some of the sports that have not had quite the same experience.”

He added after the transition to the new model, they’re going to look at ways to help improve all sports.

“Our commissions—that are essentially being phased out here—have really focused on championships,” he noted. “But only about 13 or 14 per cent of student athletes make it to championships. So there’s a whole swathe of kids that don’t make it that far that we are also responsible for. So we’re going to take a look at that and look at how we can serve all 70,000 student athletes.”

Walter van Halst, commissioner for boys rugby and a teacher at Cloverdale’s Lord Tweedsmuir, said he’s disappointed with the result and “very disturbed” by a voting process that he says wasn’t transparent.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do now,” he indicated. “But I’m very worried about the future of high school sports in British Columbia—which were already in decline.”

According to van Halst, the number of teacher-coaches has steadily dropped across the province.

“Big drop in the last five to 10 years, and that’s bad for kids because it means less teams that kids can play on.”

He said the new governance model, which he fought against, devalues community-coaches in favour of teacher-coaches and takes the voice away from community-coaches.

(Community-coaches and retired teacher-coaches are not allowed to be a part of the new governance system, only active teachers and administrators. This is different from the commissions which have quite a high number of volunteers that are not active teachers/administrators.)

“When coaches aren’t valued, it’s bad for kids, because fewer people will be willing to volunteer. And this new model doesn’t show appreciation for community-coaches.”

He said he doesn’t think the SACs (essentially powerless replacements of the commissions, that sit below two new layers of empowered decision makers) will attract the same massive numbers of volunteers.

“These people volunteer because they’re passionate about their sport. They feel appreciated and empowered. And that’s why they do it.”

Van Halst also thinks the voting process wasn’t entirely transparent.

SEE ALSO: Governance vote for B.C. high school sports ‘has lost all credibility’: rugby commissioner

“Many of the ADs, or principals—because I’ve heard some principals were voting in place of their ADs—who voted in advance didn’t know exactly what they were voting for,” he said. “The people who voted Saturday (May 1), didn’t either because no one knows how many stakeholder groups were consulted.”

Two days before the AGM, information came out that the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, one of the stakeholder groups listed as being involved in the new legislative assembly, wasn’t asked to be part of the new model. BCSS responded with a statement from their board of directors that said, “An invitation for the BCTF to name a Legislative Assembly member is already prepared, should governance pass so they can begin their process. Just as invitations are prepared for all other stakeholder groups, who as a result of our current relationships have varying levels of knowledge of the proposal.”

Abney disagreed with van Halst, saying the entire process was very transparent. He said the actual vote covered the bylaws and handbook and the proposal was a supplementary document.

“What was in the bylaws … was never changed or altered at all,” he said. “What was voted on in the advance voting was exactly what was voted on in the live voting.”

He also said the voting system was very secure. “Every school had to register their vote and got a secure pin that was individualized to their school that was sent directly to their principal of record in our membership system.”

He said a lot of the people that were against the new proposal and unhappy about the change have since contacted Abney to say “job well done” and have told him they are looking to move forward together.

“I think the margin of victory, over 73 per cent, is a strong mandate from our membership … our focus right now is looking forward on how we now put this into action and ensure we’re ready to go for the fall.”



editor@cloverdalereporter.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

High school sports

Just Posted

The Victoria Police Department is seeking information on an assault that occurred in downtown Victoria on May 10. (Black Press Media file photo)
Police investigating downtown Victoria assault on youth

Witness also attacked after trying to intervene

Howard English Hatchery volunteer Joscilyn Jupp poured one of many buckets of salmon fry into Douglas Creek on May 11, 2021. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
35,000 salmon fry released in Saanich park during closed event

Chum from Goldstream Hatchery trucked in to restore Douglas Creek salmon spawning

Local cyclist Max McCulloch catches air off a jump in the newly redesigned Organ Donor trail at Mount Work mountain biking park. The Capital Regional District approved its regional parks mountain biking guidelines and a list of short-term actions at the CRD board’s May 12 meeting. (Black Press Media File Photo)
CRD approves mountain biking guidelines that drove spoke between advocates, environmentalists

Guidelines aim to find new biking opportunites in region, while protecting park ecology

Reigning women’s World Champion Kaetlyn Osmond, who also took bronze at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, will debut two brand new programs for the 2021 Stars On Ice tour, in Victoria May 15. (File photo)
Kurt Browning, Elvis Stojko hit the ice when Stars returns to Victoria

The star-studded lineup is makes a return after pandemic hiatus

Ryan Cootes, Erin Bremner-Mitchell, Bill Collins and Mike Williamson of Cascadia Seaweed Corporation are here seen holding up seaweed grown in Barkley Sound in July 2020. The Sidney-based company has organized the inaugural Seaweed Days Festival running May 17 to May 23. (Cascadia Seaweed Corporation/Submitted)
Global expert touts seaweed to open inaugural Sidney festival

Vincent Doumeizel also points to barrier facing the emerging industry

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

A prowling coyote proved no match for a stray black cat who chased it out of a Port Moody parking lot Friday, May 14. (Twitter/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Little but fierce: Cat spotted chasing off coyote by Port Moody police

The black cat is seen jumping out from under a parked car and running the wild animal out of a vacant lot

The Nanaimo Timbermen and Victoria Shamrocks compete in Western Lacrosse Association action in Nanaimo during the 2019 season. (News Bulletin file photo)
WLA cancels another senior A lacrosse season due to COVID-19

Western Lacrosse Association, Major Series Lacrosse announce cancellation of Mann Cup

The top photo is of a real carbine rifle, while the bottom photo is the airsoft rifle seized from a Kelowna man on May 15. (Contributed)
RCMP issue warning: ‘Imitation firearms need to be dealt with responsibly’

A man brandishing his airsoft rifle in public had his weapon seized by Mounties on Saturday

Abbotsford Regional Hospital. (Black Press Media files)
Canada marks 25,000 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began

6 in every 10,000 Canadians died of COVID-19 since March 9, 2020

Staff-Sgt. Svend Nielsen, with the 100 Mile House RCMP. (Melissa Smalley - 100 Mile Free Press)
14-year-old boy killed in serious ATV crash near 100 Mile House

Youth was travelling with a group of peers when the incident occurred last Friday

Relief is coming for B.C.’s struggling tourism sector. (NEWS file photo)
B.C. officials set to announce more support for tourism sector hit hard by pandemic

Non-essential travel is restricted between three regional zones in B.C. until at least May 24

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Nathalie Emmanuel, left, and Vin Diesel in a scene from “F9.” (Giles Keyte/Universal Pictures via AP)
The blockbuster movie is making a comeback this summer

Excitement in the industry is growing again for a return to a big-screen normal

More “strings of lights” were seen on May 15, 2021, in night sky over Vancouver Island. (File photo)

Most Read