In tear-filled apologies to his friends, teammates, family, and oh yeah, the police, social media’s posterboy of late, Canadian and Vancouver riot participant Nathan Kotylak, made a public statement that was aired on Canada’s Global Television yesterday.
The seventeen year-old elite water polo player had a scholarship to the University of Calgary, provided by Canada’s national water polo program. The national team program trains in Calgary and Kotylak had the opportunity to attend university and play water polo, until a suspension was handed down to the young man after his participation in the riots had been confirmed.
Newspapers have also reported that the Kotylaks have fled their home, scared of constant threats and the publishing of their home address and telephone number online. The mob mentality has returned, but this time, the mob is singling out perpetrators of last Wednesday night’s violent and destructive riots in Vancouver.
Nathan’s father, a Maple Ridge surgeon, has already had to close his practice, citing safety reasons.
The young man waived his rights as a young offender when he did make a public statement along with the aid of his legal counsel, Bart Findlay, who’s practice advertises their specialty online as defending drunk driving charges.
While police began to lay charges yesterday, Vancouver area resident and Olympic rower, Adam Kreek, plead for Nathan Kotylak’s case as an elite athlete, calling him an “unfortunate scapegoat”. Kreek is an Olympic gold medalist and is also a board member of the Canadian Olympic Committee
As reported by Allan Maki for the Globe and Mail, Kreek went on to say Kotylak’s actions were “detestable” but if “he is the best water polo player for the Canadian Team, we should work with his strengths, not his weaknesses.” It should be noted Kreek was not speaking on behalf of the COC but was making a personal statement.
This type of “look the other way” approach is a win-at-all-costs measure that can become prevalent in sports. Kotylak may pose a threat in the pool, but his weaknesses, which seem to include lack of judgement, reckless endangerment, disrespect for authority, and a tendency towards violence are difficult to overlook. Certainly, Water polo Canada will have lots of help making a proper decision when the time comes.
Canada’s national men’s water polo team will be in the consolation semifinals this Saturday in Florence, Italy’s FINA world league action. Next month the team travels to Shanghai and then on to the Pan Am games in October to qualify for the 2012 Olympics.