RA's view on the Protective eye-wear mandate

Oct 26, 2006

The RA Badminton Club's position has been clearly stated in the Badminton Handbook I handed out at the ODBA meeting last Sunday. Nothing will change to that position, at least not for the current year ending August 31, 2007. Having said that, and having made similar comments in the aforementioned handbook, we at RA are all concerned about everyone's safety, not just the juniors under 19. Therefore, we continue to urge parents to get their children (well, anyone 18 or over is actually an adult and cannot be "forced" by parents) to wear protective eyewear. By giving prominence to this issue in our Handbook and via other communications, we also alert non-junior members to the possible risks. As a Club we take communication of all badminton aspects seriously, including the eyewear issue, and do not require outside assistance on this. For us, it's not in the cards, at least not for the immediate future, to force everyone to wear eye protection, or to prohibit court access to those who do not wear them. For the RABC to single out a certain age group among a large membership population reaching up into the eighties would be discriminatory and we don't want to go there. In fact, a point could be made that at least some people of a riper old age may well be less agile than juniors in avoiding potential hits to the eye and therefore more in need of eye protection. While the general sentiment is with junior players, the eyes of a 50-year old are just as important! If you force juniors to wear them, you must force everyone to wear them! But I'd like to think that parents of juniors and all adults are smart enough to make decisions on eyewear for themselves, in the process willing to take some risks, as with most sports. As I said at the meeting, many different types of injuries can occur on a badminton court, especially in gyms where there are too many lines, insufficient lighting, walls that are too close to the courts, too many inexperienced players mixing with more advanced players, etc. Many different types of injuries can be incurred, but as long as the owner/custodian of the facility is not negligent, the success of any law suit relating to any injury will be greatly diminished. Statements by some of the ODBA Executive that a motion was passed at the Spring 2006 ODBA meeting requiring the use of protective eyewear at ALL club activities, is INCORRECT! What was passed at that meeting, with several dissenting votes including ours and with the Kanata Junior Club (with well over 100 members) not having had the opportunity to vote on this since its President was also the ODBA President and therefore prohibited to vote, is that protective eyewear must be worn ONLY at all OBA-sanctioned events, by Juniors playing doubles and mixed doubles. Although OBA may well have passed a more restrictive policy since then (not a rule or a regulation) requiring the use of eyewear whenever "two or more Juniors are on court at all OBA, District or affiliated Club activities", there was NO such policy passed by our District. I spoke out against such a motion and explained that the RA would not feel obligated to follow what it considers an intrusion on how it manages its real property and its programs by a group of people who are NOT RA members. There was some discussion as to whether or not there should be another vote on the original motion, or on a new one incorporating the new OBA policy, but no such motion was tabled, let alone voted on. As far as ODBA is concerned, the spring 2006 motion stands and the RABC Handbook reflects this. Nevertheless, forcing protective eyewear as envisioned by some ODBA clubs and some ODBA executive members is a huge mistake. Not only in terms of a weak policy that cannot and will not be enforced, but also because it will eventually kill the game of badminton. The RA Badminton Club and the RA Centre are on record as favoring eye protection in general. However, until such time that the IBF and Badminton Canada make this a requirement, and until the badminton population begins to accept this intrusion into the sport, I cannot see forced implementation in the immediate future. Having talked off-line with many other Club representatives after last Sunday's meeting, I certainly sensed a good deal of understanding for the points I made at the meeting. We will continue to discuss this topic at the RA and any decision as it relates to eyewear at the RA Centre will be a "made-by-RA" solution. We're a large sports centre with strategies, goals and objectives that are undoubtedly different than those of typical area badminton-only clubs, that play part-time in rented school gyms and need group insurance and legal advice via the district and OBA. The RA Centre has its own legal experts, its own liability insurance, its own management and its own Board of Directors and, consequently, follows its own decision-making framework. We affiliate with the ODBA and the OBA to grow badminton in the area, to provide badminton opportunities for area players as well as for provincial and national level athletes. We train competitive players to be selected for elite level teams. As a National Training Centre, we are in contact directly with elite-level athletes to bring them to Ottawa and liaise primarily with Badminton Canada on the operation of the Centre and for participation at national and international events. The big majority of our members do NOT require affiliation! We have a long history in Ottawa as huge badminton supporters, managers and athletes. Over the years, a very large number of RA Badminton Club members have served on the ODBA and the OBA. RABC is in the business of badminton as a not-for-profit organization for the enjoyment of our members. We are aggressively moving into the future to maintain badminton in the area on the forefront as a life-long sport and a means to remain fit and healthy. I hope this clarifies the issue for you. I have, as I normally do, copied Club Executive and RA management. Cheers!

Ferdy Doreleyers

Chair, RABC