The annual Sports Hall of Fame banquet at the Grand Hall is a great event because it reminds us what a great city we have when it comes to athletics. Saturday night’s event, though, had its disappointments as well as pleasant surprises.
I hesitate to say anything negative about community galas of this kind, because so many people work so hard to make them happen, and they’re always for a good cause. But I must say Sheldon Kennedy was a disappointment.
Kennedy, the former NHL player who was one of those molested by coach Graham James, has an important story to tell. James was back in the news only a week earlier when it was revealed he’d received a National Parole Board pardon, re-igniting the whole issue about the responsibilities we have for our youth involved in sports.
But Kennedy, the keynote speaker, didn’t once mention James and his pardon. He totally ignored a great teaching moment, instead rambling along for a scant 10 minutes with a disjointed speech that failed to deliver his message. In fact, he admitted he hadn’t put any work into the speech and wasn’t even sure what he’d talk about right up to the day of the event.
Fortunately, Nancy Greene-Raine was there to pick up an award of excellence, and entertained the 380 attendees with tales of the Olympics. Indeed, she would have made an excellent keynote speaker.
The usually excellent TRU catering service took an hour and a half to get dinner on the table, by which time everyone was chewing on the centre pieces.
Nevertheless, you can’t take anything away from the organizing committee — the glitches were beyond their control — and the Hall of Fame inductions and achievement awards made up for the shortcomings.