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Au cours des dernières saisons, j'ai analysé les classements des équipes et les résultats des parties pour évaluer la qualité de la compétition. Les deux mesures de la compétitivité sont la variance des pourcentages de gains des équipes dans les ligues différentes et la marge de victoires.

En regardant les pourcentages de gains des équipes de la LFMQ, la LFJQ, la Conférence de football de l'Ontario de la LFJC ainsi que les équipes juvéniles dans la division 1, une ligue o๠la concurrence était beaucoup plus proche en 2013 par rapport aux années précédentes était la LFJQ. Dans toutes les autres ligues (sauf la LNF, qui sert comme un point de référence), la variance dans les pourcentages de gains n'était qu'environ 0.30, qui signifie qu'il y avait une grande différence entre les équipes au sommet du classement par rapport aux équipes en bas.
During the last few seasons I have analyzed the team standings and the game results to see how competitive the season was.
The two measures of the competitive aspects of the games are the variance in the winning percentages of the teams in the different leagues and the margin of victories.

Looking at the winning percentages of the teams in the QMFL, the QJFL, the Ontario Football Conference of the CJFL as well as the Juvenile teams in division 1, the one league where competition was much closer in 2013 than in the previous years was the QJFL. In all other leagues (except the NFL, which is the benchmark), the variance in the winning percentages were around 0.30, which means that there was a large discrepancy between the teams at the top of the standings compared to teams at the bottom of the standings.

En regardant l'autre mesure de la compétitivité, les marges des victoires n'ont pas changé beaucoup par rapport aux années précédentes, ce qui vaut dire qu'il y avait beaucoup de parties o๠la marge de victoire était plus élevée que tous les points que l'on peut marquer en trois possessions.. Looking at the other measure of competitiveness, the winning margins did not change very much compared to previous years, which means that there were a lot of games where the margin of victory was more than three possessions.

Ci-dessous, on peut trouver l'analyse de la marge de victoire pour la LFMQ. On peut constater que plus de 50% des matchs ont été décidés par plus que 24 points et seulement 25% ont été décidés par 8 points ou moins. Dans la LNF, lors de la saison régulière 2013, plus que 50% de tous les matchs ont été décidé par 8 points ou moins et moins de 10% ont été décidées par plus de trois possessions, et ce n'est qu'une des nombreuses raisons pourquoi cette ligue est tellement populaire. Here below is the analysis of the margin of victory for the QMFL. As one can see, more than 50% of games were decided by more than 24 points and only about 25% were decided by 8 points or less.

In the NFL, during the 2013 regular season, more than 50% of all games were decided by 8 points or less and less than 10% were decided by more than three possessions, which is one of the many reasons why it is such a popular league.

La traduction est en cours. Désolé. Many football organizations are currently looking for coaches, including the St-Lazare Stallions and the Île-Perrot Western Patriots. It's one of the many issues that amateur sports associations and charitable organizations face each year - finding enough personnel to do the work that needs to be done.

In fact, it's the one characteristic that most amateur sports associations have in common because it's definitely not the lack of money, even though they are all operated on a not-for-profit basis and funding is always a big concern. Also, it's not the lack of players because most of them have sufficient rosters due to the growing popularity of football. I can not speak for the rest of Quebec and I don't know what the situation is like in the rest of Canada, but in the Montreal area the most pressing need is finding enough coaches and volunteers (as well as referees).

It seems improbable that with so many players signing up to play and with such a large available pool of potential coaches and volunteers, football organizations struggle to find enough people to coach and to run their operations but that is the reality.

The obvious question to ask then is what is the reason for this situation and what can be done about it. Based on my own observations and discussions with many volunteers the answer is clear - there is a desperate lack of leadership and management practices to attract them and retain them. It may seem strange to talk about leadership and management practices in the context of usually small organizations that exist solely as the result of the efforts of dozens of people who work hard many hours every week without ever getting paid. Is it appropriate to analyze them in the context of their management capabilities? In fact, it is the most appropriate way to analyze it based on the information and the research that is available on this subject, and there is a lot of it. The source that I have found extremely useful is Peter Drucker, the researcher who laid the foundations for modern management principles and who has written many books on this subject. In the book "The Essential Drucker", which was published in 2005, he sums up the need to apply formal management practices this way:

Few executives are aware of the tremendous impact that management has had. They barely realize that they practice - or mispractice - management. As a result, they are ill prepared for the tremendous challenges that now confront them. To be sure, the fundamental task of management remains the same: to make people capable of joint performance through common goals, common values, the right structure, and the training and development they need to perform and to respond to change. But the very meaning of this task has changed, if only because the performance of management has converted the workforce from one composed largely of unskilled laborers to one of highly educated knowledge workers.
"The Essential Drucker", Peter Drucker, page 10

La traduction est en cours. Désolé. Another one of his books which is targeted entirely at non-profit and charitable organizations, called "Managing the Non-Profit Organization", is still as valid as when it was written in 1990. It is a reference that every non-profit organization should have and should use. It should be required reading for every member who has a management role in such an organization.

Because all non-profit organizations rely so heavily on volunteer effort the next thing to consider is what factors help these organizations attract and retain them. Since earning money is not their objective, what could possibly motivate them to get involved in the first place and to remain involved month after month and year after year? Fortunately, this is a subject that has been formally and professionally analyzed and for which a lot of expertise already exists. In the chapter entitled "What the Non-Profits are Teaching Business" ("The Essential Drucker") there is a detailed analysis of what brings volunteers into an organization and what keeps them there. First of all, there is the clear reminder of who these volunteers are:

More and more volunteers are educated people in managerial or professional jobs - some pre-retirement men and women in their fifties, even more baby boomers who are reaching their thirties and forties. These people are not satisfied with being helpers. They are knowledge workers in the jobs in which they earn their living, and they want to be knowledge workers in the jobs in which they contribute to society - that is, their volunteer work.
"The Essential Drucker", Peter Drucker, page 47

La traduction est en cours. Désolé. And there is also simple explanation of the reasons which keep them there:

If the non-profit organizations want to attract and hold them, they have to put their competence and knowledge to work. They have to offer meaningful achievement.
"The Essential Drucker", Peter Drucker, page 47

La traduction est en cours. Désolé. How can the non-profit organization accomplish this? It's two things that most of them talk about a lot but actually do very little. One of them is their mission - what is it that they are actually trying to accomplish? Let's keep in mind that the goal of every single non-profit organization that exists in the world, regardless of what it actually does, is to change people's lives (Peter Drucker, "Managing the Non-Profit Organization"). Their own individual missions must then reflect the specific objectives that are the reasons for their existence.

What do these unpaid staff people themselves demand? What makes them stay? Their first and most important demand is that the non-profit have a clear mission, one that drives everything the organization does.
The second thing this new breed requires, indeed demands, is training, training and more training. And, in turn, the most effective way to motivate and hold the veterans is to recognize their expertise and use them to train newcomers.
They expect to be consulted and to participate in making decisions that affect their work and the work of the organization as a whole.
Many of today's knowledge-worker volunteers insist on having their performance reviewed against preset objectives at least once a year. And increasingly, they expect their organizations to remove nonperformers by moving them to other assignments that better fit their capacities or by counseling them to leave.
"The Essential Drucker", Peter Drucker, pages 48-49

La traduction est en cours. Désolé. Unfortunately, as I have seen in my own experience, these simple and clear principles are too often ignored and forgotten by directors and decision makers within most of the local volunteer sports organizations, especially those that are involved in football. I do not know of any organization, for example, whose directors adhere to the principles of self-evaluation that are also described in this book despite the obvious benefits that they bring.

The need to attract and retain quality volunteers is the responsibility of the executives at these organizations. However, without any clear, formal and established processes for evaluating how well they live up to their responsibilities these decision makers never face the scrutiny that would reveal why their clubs are short staffed. Instead, the fingers are pointed at the potential volunteers who are accused of letting the organization down and not willing to get involved.

Management - and not only in the business enterprise - has to be accountable for performance. But how is performance to be defined? How is it to be measured? How is it to be enforced? And to whom should management be accountable? That these questions can be asked is in itself a measure of the success and importance of management. That they need to be asked is, however, also an indictment of managers. That they have not yet faced up to the fact that they represent power - and power has to be accountable, has to be legitimate.They have not yet faced up to the fact that they matter.
"The Essential Drucker", Peter Drucker, page 10

La traduction est en cours. Désolé. The next question to ask then is whose responsibility is it to ensure that good management practices are used to run the organization and the answer to that is that it's the leaders' responsibility to do that. They are the ones who have to provide direction, guidance and motivation. A book has recently been published that analyzes the behaviour of leaders. It is written by Alastair Smith and it's entitled "The Dictator's Handbook: How Bad Behaviour is Almost Always Good Politics". First of all, don't let the title deceive you. As the author of this book states, this book applies to everyone.

It doesn't matter whether you are a dictator, a democratic leader, head of a charity or a sports organization, the same things go on. Firstly, you don't rule by yourself - you need supporters to keep you there, and what determines how you best survive is how many supporters you have and how big a pool you can draw these supporters from.

La traduction est en cours. Désolé.

Secondly, the book gives an excellent explanation of why leaders behave the way they do (to remain in power) and how they accomplish this.

It's much better to decide who gets to eat than to let the people feed themselves. If you lower taxes people will do more work, but then people will get rewards that aren't coming through you. Everything good must come through you.

La traduction est en cours. Désolé.

Think about the way coaches are selected in most of the football organizations. It certainly fits the explanation above. The final question that has to be asked then is what should be done about this?
At the grass roots level, of course, it is the members of these organizations who have the most power to bring about the necessary changes because they can choose the directors.
At the regulatory level, however, it must be Football Canada or Football Quebec, if not the Ministry of Education, Leisure and Sports, who must provide courses and training on management practices just like they currently provide training and courses on coaching. They could make the greatest contribution to improving the way non-profit sports clubs are run by offering a course on fundamental management principles as well as the basic legal obligations that they have to conform to.

However, until that happens individual members will have to use the powers that they have to bring about the necessary changes in their own organizations. Members need to ask about mission statements, about management policies, about coach selection processes etc. They need to demand that the practices used within their organizations are geared towards delivering the biggest benefits to the members. How well the directors of these organizations react to these demands will be a reflection on their commitment to accomplish the mission that they had set for the organization when they got involved.


Le bilan de la saison 2011 / 2011 season wrap-up

Si une seule image pouvait décrire une saison entière de football alors il serait l'image ci-dessous.

Ce graphique montre le niveau de concurrence des matchs pendant la saison 2011 pour six ligues différentes : les divisions WS et BH de la LFMQ, la LFJQ et la division OFC de la LFJC ainsi que la ligue juvénile AAA du Québec (div 1a) et la LFN. On se rappelle que ce graphique montre l'écart-type des pourcentages de gains de toutes les équipes dans chaque ligue. C'est un sujet que j'ai déjà  abordé en 2010 dans cet article. Plus ce chiffre est bas plus serrée est la compétition dans la ligue.

Ce graphique montre que toutes les ligues, sauf la LFJQ, étaient moins compétitives en 2011 par rapport à  l'année précédente. Bien sûr, la LFN est toujours la référence et son écart type de seulement 0,2 montre que la concurrence est encore assez équilibrée dans cette ligue. La division LFMQ BH n'était pas loin de cette marque avec un écart type de 0,24 lorsque la LFJQ s'est placée troisième avec un sigma de 0,26. Toutes les autres ligues avaient des chiffres supérieurs à  0,3 et ce fait indique beaucoup de disparité entre les équipes gagnantes et les équipes perdantes.

If just one image could describe an entire season of football then it would be the graph below.

This graph shows how competitive were the games during the 2011 season in six different leagues: the QMFL WS and BH divisions, the QJFL and the CJFL OFC division as well as the Quebec Juvenile AAA league (div 1a) and the NFL. As a reminder, what this graph shows is the standard deviation of the winning percentages of all the teams in each league. It is a subject that I first wrote about in 2010 in this article. The smaller the number the more competitive the league is.

What this graph shows is that all the leagues except the QJFL were less competitive in 2011 than they were in the previous year. Of course, the NFL is still the benchmark and with a standard deviation of only 0.2 it shows that the competition is still quite balanced in that league. The QMFL BH division was close to that mark with a standard deviation of 0.24 and the QJFL was third with a sigma of 0.26. All the other leagues were above 0.3 which indicates a large amount of disparity between the winning teams and the losing teams.

2011 competitive balance graph

Pour illustrer le concept de l'équilibre concurrentiel un peu mieux on peut comparer deux saisons différentes pour une ligue particulière. Une ligue qui est très significative pour moi est la division WS de la LFMQ o๠jouent les Stallions de St-Lazare.
Une belle façon de montrer la fiche de gains et de pertes de chaque équipe est de la considèrer comme un point sur un système de coordonnées cartésiennes, o๠l'axe X montre le nombre de victoires tandis que l'axe Y indique le nombre de pertes. Il n'y a pas besoin de s'inquiéter des matchs nuls parce que les parties dans la LFMQ ne peuvent pas se terminer ainsi.

Les deux années qui montrent bien la différence dans l'équilibre de la concurrence sont 2009, o๠l'écart type des pourcentages de gains était de 0,26, et en 2011 o๠la valeur de sigma est de 0,32.

To illustrate the concept of competitive balance a little bit better we can compare two different seasons for one specific league. The one that's closest to my heart is the QMFL WS division where the St-Lazare Stallions play.
One nice way of doing this is to show the position of each team's win-loss record as a point on an X-Y coordinate system, where the X-axis shows the number of wins and the Y-axis shows the number of losses. We don't need to worry about ties because games in the QMFL can not end in a tie.

The two years that really show the difference in competitive balance are 2009, when the standard deviation of winning percentages was 0.26, and 2011 when the value of sigma was 0.32.

2009 QMFL WS competitive balance illustration

2011 QMFL WS competitive balance illustration

En 2009, il y avait beaucoup d'équipes avec des pourcentages de gains similaires alors qu'en 2011 les pourcentages de gains de toutes les équipes sont beaucoup plus dispersées. Étant donné que l'écart-type, ou sigma est une mesure de variance nécessaire pour capter 2/3 des membres d'un groupe, il est facile à  voir qu'il fallait un cercle assez petit pour « rattraper » 2/3 des équipes en 2009. En 2011, par contre, nous avons besoin d'un cercle beaucoup plus grand pour attraper 2/3 des équipes.

Dans une situation idéale, on aimerait avoir quelques équipes avec de fiches de 7-3 et 3-7, mais de fiches de 6-4 5-5 et 4-6 pour la plupart des autres. Ce serait une ligue très compétitive.

In 2009, there were a lot of teams with similar winning percentages whereas in 2011 the winning percentages of all the teams are much more spread apart. Since standard deviation, or sigma, is a measure of how much variance is necessary to capture 2/3 of the members of a group, it is easy to see that "catching" 2/3 of the teams in 2009 required a pretty small circle. In 2011, however, we need a much bigger circle to catch 2/3 of the teams inside.

In an ideal case, we would like to have a few teams with 7-3 and 3-7 records but most of the others should have 6-4 5-5 and 4-6 records. That would be a really competitive league.

2009 QMFL WS winning margin analysis

2011 QMFL WS winning margin analysis

2011-Jan-22 mise à  jour : une autre façon de mesurer le niveau de la concurrence d'une ligue est de regarder les marges de victoires. Même s'il y a beaucoup de disparité dans les pourcentages de gains, si les scores sont toujours serrés, alors c'est une indication d'un bon équilibre compétitif. Les deux graphiques ci-dessus montrent le nombre de jeux par rapport aux marges de victoires pour la division WS de la LFMQ en 2009 et 2011.

En 2009, parmi les 66 parties au total que l'on a joué durant la saison régulière, seulement 28 (environ 40 %) se sont terminées par une marge de plus de 24 points (nombre maximum de points que l'on peut obtenir en trois séries offensives). D'autre part, il y a eu 24 matchs (environ 35 %) o๠les marges de victoires étaient de 16 points ou moins (deux séries). En revanche, en 2011 35 matchs sur 55 (environ 60 %) se sont terminés par une marge de victoire supérieure à  24 et seulement 14 d'entre eux (25 %) se sont terminés avec un écart de 16 points ou moins.
2011-Jan-22 update: another way to measure how close the competition is in a league is by looking at the margin of victory. Even if there is a lot of disparity in the winning percentages, if the scores are always close then that is an indication of a good competitive balance. The two graphs above show the number of games with respect to the winning margin for the QMFL WS division in 2009 and 2011.

In 2009, out of the 66 total games that were played during the regular season, only 28 (about 40%) ended by more than 24 points (maximum number of points that can be scored in three offensive possessions). On the other hand, there were 24 games (about 35%) where the margin of victory was 16 points or less (two possessions).
By contrast, in 2011 35 games out of 55 (about 60%) ended with a winning margin greater than 24 and only 14 games (25%) finished with a difference of 16 points or less.

Tout comme un million d'autres Canadiens, ou presque, j'ai regardé le match de la Coupe Vanier entre les équipes de Rouge et Or de Laval et les Marauders de l'Université McMaster, le vendredi 25 novembre.

Une des raisons pourquoi je l'ai fait était qu'il y avait des joueurs à  toutes les deux équipes qui avaient des liens locaux. Bien sûr, du côté de Laval il y avait Julian Bailey qui a joué avec les Stallions jusqu'à  l'année 2006, mais on y trouvait aussi Philippe Bourassa qui a joué avec le Noir et Or du CÉGEP de Valleyfield. De la part de McMaster, il y avait Sean Smith et Kevin Aleinik qui ont joué pour les Wildcats de Cornwall.

Ce match s'est avéré, probablement, aussi mémorable dans l'histoire du football universitaire que le match de la Fiesta Bowl entre les équipes de Boise State et d'Oklahoma State qui avait lieu le 1er janvier, 2007. Il y avait beaucoup de moments dramatiques et de jeux extraordinaires, mais pour moi, le jeu qui s'est démarqué de tous les autres s'est passé presque à  la fin du 3e quart.

Laval venait tout juste de marquer 17 points sans riposte pour porter le pointage à  23-17 pour McMaster. Il semblait que l'unité offensive des Marauders se remettait en marche de nouveau et elle se trouvait à  la ligne de 23 verges de Laval. Lors du jeu de 2e essai, Kyle Quinlan avait reculé pour tenter une passe, mais il n'a pas trouvé de receveur ouvert. Sous la pression forte de la défense de Laval, il s'est échappé de la poche et il a constaté un de ses coéquipiers qui courrait dans la zone des buts. Il a lancé le ballon, mais Maximilien Ducap-Kamara a soudainement apparu pour intercepter la passe à  la ligne des buts. Une fois le jeu terminé, on pouvait voir à  la télé le quart de l'Université McMaster marcher vers l'extérieur du terrain. Tout d'un coup, Stefan Ptaszek, l'entraîneur-chef de McMaster, est apparu sur l'écran et il courait vers Quinlan avec un grand sourire sur son visage comme s'il voulait encourager ou féliciter son QB.

Je connais beaucoup d'entraîneurs qui n'auraient jamais fait ça. En fait, je suis sûr que parmi ceux que j'ai rencontré au cours des 7-8 dernières années, beaucoup auraient été furieux, pour ne pas utiliser un mot plus fort. J'ai déjà  abordé ce sujet particulier l'année dernière dans un article sur la motivation des jeunes joueurs. On peut trouver cet article ici. La façon dans laquelle l'entraîneur Ptaszek a réagi est exactement comment les entraîneurs devraient réagir, dans des situations similaires. Toutefois, pour être sûr que j'ai interprété correctement ses actions je l'ai contacté et lui ai posé quelques questions à  propos de ce jeu là . Voici comment il m'a répondu :
Like just about a million other Canadians I watched the Vanier Cup game between the Laval Rouge et Or and the McMaster Marauders last Friday, Nov. 25.

One of the reasons was that there were players on both teams that had some local connections. Of course, on the Laval side there was Julian Bailey who played for the Stallions until 2006 but there was also Philippe Bourassa who played with the Noir et Or at the Valleyfield CEGEP. On the McMaster side, there were Sean Smith and Kevin Aleinik who played for the Cornwall Wildcats.

As it turned out, this game will probably go down in history as being just as memorable as the Jan. 1, 2007 Fiesta Bowl game between Boise State and Oklahoma State teams. There were many dramatic moments and many great plays but for me the one play that stood out from all the others took place near the end of the 3rd quarter.

After Laval had scored 17 unanswered points to make the score 23-17 for McMaster, the Marauders offense finally seemed to be going again and they had the ball at the Laval 23-yd line. On a 2nd down play, Kyle Quinlan dropped back to pass but couldn't find any open receiver. Under a lot of pressure from Laval defense he scrambled out of the pocket and noticed a teammate in the end zone. He threw the ball but Maximilien Ducap-Kamara seemed to come out of nowhere and intercepted the pass at the goal line. Once the play was over, the TV camera focused on the McMaster quarterback walking off the field and all of a sudden Stefan Ptaszek, the McMaster head coach, came running towards Quinlan with a big smile on his face as if he was encouraging or congratulating the QB.

Many of the coaches that I know would have never done that. In fact, I'm sure that many that I have seen over the last 7-8 years would have been furious, to put it mildly. I have already touched on this specific subject last year in an article about motivating young players. The article can be found here. The way coach Ptaszek reacted was exactly the way coaches should react in similar situations. However, to be sure that I interpreted his actions correctly I contacted him and asked him about that fateful play. This is the response he provided:

Kyle had just about pulled off one of the biggest plays of the game. His process (effort, vision, presence, etc) was exactly what I wanted. I was smiling to reinforce the "let's make plays" strategy versus being afraid to make mistakes. The outcome of the play is not as important as the process!

I told him to keep "pressing" and not to let up even a little bit.

C'est bien évident que cette stratégie avait bien fonctionné parce que peu après Kyle Quinlan est retourné sur le terrain et il faisait des jeux impressionnants un après l'autre alors même que les risques et la pression avaient augmenté, tel que la transformation de deux points, par exemple. On peut seulement songer que cette leçon ne sera pas ignorée par tous les entraîneurs amateurs qui ont regardé le match pour que les joueurs qu'ils sont censés motiver et auxquels ils sont censés apprendre des leçons importantes de la vie puissent en bénéficier tant sur le terrain qu'en hors. This approach obviously worked because Kyle Quinlan went back out on the field and kept making one big play after another even as the risk and pressure kept increasing, such as the 2-pt convert pass for example. It's a lesson that hopefully will not be lost on all the amateur coaches who watched the game so that the players whom they are supposed to motivate and whom they are supposed to teach important life lessons could benefit from it both on and off the field.
Il y a quelques jours le département des Sports et des Loisirs du Collège John Abbott a diffusé un communiqué de presse dans lequel on a indiqué que Justin McHugh ne resterait plus au poste d'entraîneur-chef de l'équipe de football. Ceci a été suivi quelques jours plus tard par un autre communiqué de presse o๠on annonçait que le collège cherchait de candidats pour le poste d'entraîneur-chef et l'on décrivait les qualifications requises ainsi que les responsabilités de l'entraîneur-chef. On peut trouver des copies de ces communiqués de presse ci-dessous.

à‡a ne devrait surprendre personne qu'on n'avait pas demandé à  Justin McHugh de continuer à  diriger le programme de football des Islanders. Au cours des trois dernières saisons, l'équipe n'a réussi à  gagner que cinq matchs et elle ne s'est jamais qualifiée pour les séries éliminatoires pendant cette période. C'était un peu surprenant qu'il ne pouvait pas continuer un peu plus longtemps, surtout si l'on considère qu'au cours de 40 ans de leur existence les Islanders n'ont eu que cinq entraîneurs-chefs qu'ils ont toujours jouit beaucoup de patience de la part des administrateurs, même quand ils ne gagnaient pas.

à‡a ne devrait surprendre personne non plus si beaucoup de candidats postulent ce poste. En fin compte, être un entraîneur-chef au cégep est un emploi payé, même s'il s'agit officiellement d'un poste à  temps partiel. Mais, cet emploi exige beaucoup d'engagement à  cause de cinq pratiques chaque semaine, suivies d'une partie pendant le week-end lors de la saison. Ensuite, il faut ajouter la sélection l'ensemble d'entraîneurs, les pratiques hors-saison, le camp de sélection au printemps et toutes les autres tâches qu'on demande à  l'entraîneur-chef et le calendrier devient assez chargé. Cet emploi nécessite une personne spéciale qui peut consacrer tout le temps nécessaire pour faire le travail, mais, surtout à  ce niveau-là , qui peut recevoir le soutien nécessaire de sa famille et du collège.

Cependant, la question qu'il faut poser est s'ils trouvent quelqu'un qui a toutes les qualifications requises du point de vue du sport de football, sera-t-il suffisant pour améliorer la performance de l'équipe sur le terrain aussi bien que sa visibilité à  l'extérieur de l'école et pour bénéficier des avantages qu'un programme réussi de sport peut apporter à  une institution d'enseignement. Quel rôle l'équipe de football a-t-elle au Collège John Abbott? Est-elle là  juste pour donner à  un groupe de 50-60 étudiants une opportunité de participer dans une activité physique et de rester en forme ou doit-elle être plus que ça? C'est une question extrêmement importante qu'on doit considérer.

Déjà , il y a beaucoup de preuves que les équipes de sport peuvent être un outil puissant de marketing et motivation non seulement pour les athlètes qui font partie d'elles, mais pour les autres étudiants aussi. On a déjà  écrit beaucoup sur ce sujet et l'un des articles que j'ai trouvé très utiles est un rapport de recherche de Devin G. Pope et Jaren C. Pope intitulé « Comprendre les Décisions d'Inscription au Collège : Pourquoi le Succés dans les Sports Collegiales est Important». Il se trouve ici. Voici un petit échantillon de son contenu :

A few days ago the Sports and Recreation department of John Abbott College sent out a press release indicating that Justin McHugh was not going to continue as the head coach of its football team. This was followed a couple of days later by another press release announcing that the college was looking for applicants for the head coaching position and describing the required qualifications as well as the responsibilities that the head coach is expected to fulfill. Copies of these press releases are attached below.

The fact that Justin McHugh was not asked to continue to lead the Islanders' football program should not be a surprise. Over the last three seasons the team managed to win only five games and it never qualified for the playoffs during that time. It was a little surprising that he did not get at least a short extension considering that in their 40-year history the Islanders have only had five head coaches who always seemed to get a lot of rope from the administrators even when they weren't winning.

It should also not be a surprise if many candidates apply for this position. After all, being a head coach at a CEGEP is a paid job even if officially it's only a part time one. It does require a lot of commitment, though, with five practices every week in addition to the game on the weekends during the playing season. Add to that the selection of the coaching staff, the off-season workouts, spring tryouts and all the other tasks that the head coach is being asked to do and it adds up to be a pretty hectic schedule. It requires a special individual, who can dedicate all the time that is required to do the job but, most importantly, has the necessary level of support from their family and from the college.

The question is, however, even if they find someone who has all the required qualifications from the point of view of the sport of football, will that be enough to elevate the team not only in terms of its performance on the playing field but also in terms of its visibility outside the school and the benefits that a successful sports program can bring to an educational institution. What role does the football team have at John Abbott? Is it there just to give a group of 50-60 students an opportunity to get some really good physical activity and stay in shape or is it more than that? This is an extremely important question and it needs to be addressed.

Already, there is plenty of evidence that sports teams can be a powerful marketing and motivational tool not only for the athletes that are part of them but to the other students as well. A lot has been written about it already and one of the articles that I found very informative is a research paper by Devin G. Pope and Jaren C. Pope entitled "Understanding College Application Decisions: Why College Sports Success Matters". It can be found here. Here is a small sample of its content:

"Key findings include: (i) football and basketball success significantly increase the quantity of applications to a school, with estimates ranging from 2-8% for the top 20 football schools and the top 16 basketball schools each year; (ii) the extra applications received are composed of both low and high SAT scoring students, thus providing potential for schools to improve their admission outcomes, and (iii) schools exploit these increases in applications by increasing both the number and the quality of incoming students."
On peut trouver d'autres articles intéressants à  ce sujet ici, ici et ici. Je pense que la question sur le rôle du sport au sein de l'école est quelque chose que les candidats devraient aux administrateurs lors du processus de sélection. En fait, un entretien entre un candidat et les administrateurs n'est pas seulement pour évaluer la personne qui essaie de se faire embaucher, mais aussi pour évaluer l'institution qui fait l'embauche.

Le Collège John Abbott n'est pas la première école qui a dû faire face à  ces questions et elle ne sera pas la dernière. D'autres écoles ont déjà  vécu la même situation et leurs programmes de football se sont améliorés beaucoup. Collège André-Grasset et le Cégep de Valleyfield ne sont que deux exemples que l'on peut nommer.
Other interesting articles on this subject can be found here, here and here. The question about the role of sports within the school is something that I think the potential candidates should be asking their interviewers when they're applying for the position. After all, an interview is not only about the person who is trying to get hired but also about the institution that is doing the hiring.

John Abbott College is not the first school that had to face these questions and it will not be the last. Other schools have already gone through that process and have come out much improved. Collège André-Grasset and CEGEP de Valleyfield are just two examples that come to mind immediately.

Le communiqé de presse de 5 novembre
The November 5 press release

Le communiqé de presse de 7 novembre
The November 7 press release
Je n'ai pas fini encore le reportage sur l'AGA de l'Association de Football de St-Lazare pour la saison 2010. à‡a prend du temps parce qu'il y a beaucoup de choses à  mentionner et parce que je prends les temps pour s'assurer que le rapport est exact et objectif. Je vous demande être patient encore pour quelques jours.

Cependant, il y a un sujet urgent que je dois aborder tout de suite. C'est à  propos le fait décevant qu'en dépit de l'accès facile à  l'internet, de même que la disponibilité de la technologie et des moyens de publication des informations sur l'internet, c'est seulement une faible minorité des organisations qui pourraient vraiment bénéficier de la visibilité offerte par l'internet qui exploitent ses propres sites web. Et là  encore, même sur les sites web qui existent, par exemple les Stallions de St-Lazare ou les Cougars de Lakeshore, on ne trouve très peu ou presque rien du tout d'information.

Pourquoi est-il important de traiter ce sujet maintenant? En fait, c'est à  cause d'une très simple et très bonne raison : dans son état financier pour la saison 2010, l'Association de Football de St-Lazare a révélé qu'elle avait dépensé 6112 $ sur leur site web. C'est vrai, six milles cent douze dollars! C'est presque incompréhensible. En moyenne, cela vaut dire qu'elle avait dépensé plus que 120 $ par semaine, pendant toutes les semaines, et quelles sont les résultats? Une configuration initiale, une mise à  jour trois semaines aprés le début de la saison et presque rien pendant le reste de l'année. J'ai demandé à  la trésorière de l'association si elle croyait que l'association a reçu de la bonne valeur pour son argent et elle avait répondu oui.

Croyez-le ou pas, ce n'est pas la raison pour laquelle j'écris cet article. Les résultats financiers seront discutés dans mon reportage sur l'AGA. La vraie raison pourquoi je le mentionne maintenant est parce que cela pourrait expliquer pourquoi les sites web des associations amateur sont tellement inadéquats en général. On peut imaginer que quand on demande aux fournisseurs de services web des soumissions et on nous indique de prix comme ça, c'est juste que l'on ne peut que les refuser. Il n'y a absolument aucune raison, pas du tout, pourquoi la mise en place et le maintient d'un site web ne devrait coûter à  une organisation sans but lucratif même pas un cent de plus que 50 $ par année. C'est tout simplement parce que l'inscription d'un nom de domaine unique coute seulement 12 $ par an et le coût de l'hébergement d'un site web sur des serveurs tels que Freehostia ou GoDaddy coute aussi peu que 3 $ par mois.

En fait, il est absolument possible d'avoir des sites web qui coûtent 0 $ par année. Je sais parce que je les ai utilisés pour maintenir les sites web de l'Association de Soccer Hudson / St-Lazare ainsi que de l'Association de Football de St-Lazare. Il est étonnant ce qu'on peut faire avec ces sites gratuits comme on l'avait démontré au cours des années 2005 et 2006, lorsque le site web des Stallions était hébergé à et Anson Williams se promenait avec une aire de fierté autour du terrain de football, satisfait de l'attention que les visiteurs lui donnaient. On m'avait introduit souvent à  des gens qui demandaient des conseils ou d'échanger de liens. Oui, c'est vrai, de certains points de vue, le format des sites gratuits comme ça n'est pas très flexible mais ils offrent quand même suffisamment des possibilités de personnalisation. Ce qui est important est que si on veut vraiment informer nos membres, si on a vraiment la volonté (oui, je ne pense que de la LFJQ) alors peu importe la façon qu'on utilise pour le faire tant que ce soit fait.

Mais, en fin compte, on veut toujours être unique et se démarquer, un sentiment que je trouve très admirable, et on commence à  réfléchir du bonheur qu'un site web spécial à  nous-mêmes nous porterait. Alors, lorsqu'on considère des idées comme ça, on va peut-être contacter un concepteur qui va nous convaincre d'obtenir un site web professionnel et au début tout cela peut fonctionner bien. En fait, parfois ça peut même arriver qu'une personne au sein de l'organisation même s'occupera du site web. Cependant, après un court délai, en général deux ou trois semaines après le début de la saison, on va trouver que le concepteur va demander beaucoup plus d'argent pour maintenir le site ou le membre qui s'est engagé à  le faire tout d'un coup ne peut plus trouver du temps pour faire le boulot. Le site est abandonné et il commence à  mourir lentement avec de mauvaises conséquences pour l'image de l'organisation.

C'est là  que je peux faire quelque chose. Je connais déjà  la réaction des gens qui sont impliqués avec des organisations sans but lucratif quand quelqu'un essaie de discuter de choses qu'il faut améliorer tu ne sais faire que critiquer et alors pourquoi tu ne le fais pas toi-même? Justement, pourquoi je ne pourrais pas le faire? J'ai déjà  offert mon aide à  de nombreuses organisations depuis l'année 2004, mais j'ai trouvé, malheureusement, que la plupart du temps elles ne l'acceptent pas. Pourquoi? Je l'ignore. Peut-être il y a une raison psychologique profonde, par exemple parce qu'elles ne voulent pas perdre une excuse pour leurs mauvaises performances, mais c'est pour d'autres personnes à  analyser. Quoi qu'il en soit, ce n'est pas important.

Mon offre de partager de l'information et de la formation sur la conception, la sélection du service d'hébergement et sur le maintien d'un site web

Ici, aujourd'hui, et en publique, j'offre à  toutes les organisations amateurs sans but lucratif une formation de 3-4 heures dont le but sera de permettre à  toute personne non professionnelle apprendre tout ce qu'il savoir pour mettre en place et maintenir un site web. Voici les sujets que je vais couvrir :   
  1. les avantages et les désavantages des sites qui offrent d'hébergement gratuit tels que Eteamz et LeagueLineup pour ceux qui les considèrent   
  2. une très brève description de la programmation HTML qui est nécessaire pour personnaliser les sites Eteamz et LeagueLineup   
  3. le choix et l'inscription d'un nom de domaine   
  4. le choix d'un service d'hébergement   
  5. un tutoriel sur l'utilisation du logiciel gratuit NetObjectsFusion Essentials pour la conception d'un site web   
  6. comment structurer un site web de sorte que plusieurs personnes peuvent le maintenir

Pour être clair, le but de ce tutoriel ne sera pas la promotion de l'utilisation des sites gratuits comme Eteamz ou LeagueLineup mais sur la configuration et la gestion d'un site web entièrement personnalisé et unique. Vous pouvez voir ce que j'ai achevé avec le logiciel NetObjectsFusion Essentials en visitant le site web ou bien le site web
J'admets que lorsqu'on regarde des sites web complexes qui sont accessibles sur l'internet, ça peut apparaître impossible pour les amateurs et les enthousiastes de pouvoir concevoir et de maintenir un site web. Cependant, le fait qu'une personne comme moi avait réussi de le faire est une vraie preuve que ce n'est pas le cas. Je vous garantis que si vous savez composer un courriel, ouvrir et lire un document texte ou bien ouvrir et regarder une feuille de calcul, vous pouvez maintenir un site web.

Les informations quant aux mes coordonnées se trouvent sur la page Contact. Si je reçois au moins deux ou trois demandes alors je vais réserver une petite salle de réunion au Centre Communautaire de St-Lazare et je vais donner le séminaire là -bas. En fait, j'ai envie d'ajouter des informations sur les feuilles de calcul que j'ai élaboré pour calculer les classements ainsi que les fichiers que j'utilise pour les statistiques des parties de football.
I am still writing the report on the St-Lazare Football Association's AGM for the 2010 season. It's taking time because there is a lot to write about and because I want to make sure that the report is accurate and objective. Please be patient for a few more days.

However, there is one urgent matter that I must address right away. It is about the disappointing fact that despite the widespread availability of internet access as well as the technology and the means to post information on the internet, only a very small fraction of organizations that could really benefit from the exposure that the internet offers actually have their own web sites. Even those that do have them, such as the St-Lazare Stallions or the Lakeshore Cougars, for example, provide very little if any information on them.

Why is it important to write about this issue now? For one big but very simple reason: in the financial report for the 2010 season the St-Lazare Football Association revealed that they had spent $6112 on their web site. That's right, six thousand one hundred twelve dollars! It is absolutely mind boggling. On the average, it means that they spent more than $120 per week, week after week, and for what? An initial setup, one update three weeks into the season and then not much more the rest of the year. I asked the association's treasurer whether she thought that the association received good value for its money and the reply was that they did.

Believe it or not, though, this is not the reason why I'm writing this article. The financial results will be discussed in my AGM report. The real reason why I'm mentioning this here is that perhaps this can explain why amateur associations in general are so poor at keeping up web sites. I can just imagine that when they approach some professional web site designer and are quoted these kinds of figures they naturally shy away and as well they should. There is absolutely no reason in the world, none whatsoever, why setting up and maintaining a web site should cost any non-profit organization one cent more than $50 per year. That's simply because registering a unique domain name costs only about $12 per year and the cost of hosting a web site on servers such as Freehostia or GoDaddy is as low as $3 per month.

In fact, it is absolutely feasible to have web sites that cost $0 per year. I know because I used to maintain such web sites for the Hudson/St-Lazare Soccer Association as well as the St-Lazare Football Association. It is amazing what can be done with such free sites as it was demonstrated in 2005 and 2006 when the Stallions had their web site hosted at and Anson Williams used to strut around the football field like a proud peacock, basking in the praise that he received from visiting teams. I used to get introduced to a lot of people who were asking for advice and exchange of links.
Yes, it's true, the format of those free sites is restrictive to some degree but there is still an enormous amount of customizing that can be done. The point is that if you really want to inform your members, if you really have the will (yes, I'm looking at you QJFL) then you will not care how it's done but that it is done.

Ultimately, though, everyone wants to be unique and to stand out, which is admirable, and they start to think wistfully how wonderful it would be if they could only have their own, special web site. So, in the process, they may approach some designer and they may get convinced to get a professionally designed site and in the beginning it may all work well. In fact, sometimes it may even be someone in their own organization. However, after only a few months, typically two or three weeks into the season, they are finding that the designer is asking for a lot more money to keep the site updated or the member who took on the task suddenly can't find the time to do any more work. The web site is left abandoned and dies a slow and embarrassing death.

This is where I come in. I know the reaction that most people who are involved with non-profit organizations  have when anyone tries to discuss things that need to be improved - all you can do is criticize and why don't you do it? Exactly, why don't I do it? I have offered my help to many organizations many times going back to 2004 but I have found out that most of the times they really don't want any help. I don't know why that is. It may be some deep psychological reason like not wanting to lose an excuse for their poor performance but that's for others to consider and analyze. Whatever it is, it doesn't matter.

Standing offer to provide information and training on how to design, how to select a hosting service and how to maintain a web site

Here today, I am publicly offering to any amateur, non-profit organization to provide a 3-4 hour training seminar that will cover everything that a non-professional person needs to set up and maintain a web site. Here are the topics that I will cover:
  1. the pros and cons of free hosting sites such as Eteamz and LeagueLineup in case they actually consider using these hosting services
  2. a very brief description of HTML programming that is needed to customize Eteamz and LeagueLineup sites
  3. choosing and registering a domain name
  4. choosing a hosting service
  5. tutorial on how to use the free NetObjectsFusion Essentials software for designing a web site
  6. how to set up a web site so that several people can share the task of maintaining it
To be clear, this seminar WILL NOT be about promoting the use of free sites like Eteamz or LeagueLineup but about setting up and managing a fully customized and unique web site. You can see what I have been able to do with the NetObjectsFusion Essentials software by visiting either the web site or the web site.
I know that when one looks at the many complex web sites that are accessible on the internet the task of setting one up and maintaining it may appear insurmountable for amateurs and hobbyists like most people. However, I am a living proof that this is not the case. I can guarantee that if you know how to compose an e-mail message, open and read a text document or open and look at a spreadsheet then you can maintain a web site.

The information about contacting me can be found on the Contact page. If I get at least two or three people who are interested then I will reserve a small meeting room at the St-Lazare Community Center and I will provide the seminar there. In fact, I may even throw in some information about the spreadsheets that I have developed myself for calculating standings as well as the files I use for football statistics.

Dans une de mes rubriques précédentes sur La Puissance de l'Internet, je parlais du manque d'information concernant la majorité des organisations de football amateur au Québec. Mis à  part une poignée des exceptions comme les Lions de North Shore, les Dragons de la Beauce, les Vikings de l'Île-Bizard, les Grizzlies de Boucherville et les Diablos de Laprairie, on connait très peu sur les centaines d'équipes qui jouent au football chaque année.

Selon mes propres expériences et mes observations, j'ai constaté qu'il y a très peu de volonté parmi les administrateurs et les dirigeants d'organismes amateurs de partager des informations et faire connaître les activités de leurs organisations. C'est une grave erreur, car elle crée un vide d'information et si on prend en compte ce qu'un scientifique célèbre avait dit :. « Nature a horreur du vide ".

Dans le cas d'un vide d'information, ce qui se passe, c'est que le vide est rapidement rempli de rumeurs, des insinuations, des hypothèses et des malentendus. Pire encore, si une organisation tente de contrer ces rumeurs avec des démentis elle fait qu'empirer les choses et la recherche scientifique confirme cela. Un récent article paru dans le journal The Economist décrit les résultats de cette recherche et fournit des conseils sur la meilleure stratégie que les organisations devraient adopter. La recette est remarquablement simple : générer un flux de bonnes nouvelles, créer de la bonne publicité et bâtir une réputation d'être une source fiable de l'information.

Voici le lien à  cet article. C'est vraiment intéressant à  lire.
In my earlier article about The Power of the Internet I wrote about the lack of information regarding most of the amateur football organizations in Quebec. With only a handful of notable exceptions like the North Shore Lions, the Beauce Dragons, the Île-Bizard Vikings, the Boucherville Grizzlies and the Laprairie Diablos, very little is known about the hundreds of teams that play football each year.

Based on my own experiences and observations I have seen that there is very little will on the part of most administrators and directors of amateur organizations to share information and to publicize their organizations' activities. This is a grave error because it creates an information vacuum and as one famous scientist once said: "Nature abhors a vacuum".

In the case of an information vacuum, what happens is that the void is quickly filled in with rumors, innuendo, assumptions and misunderstandings. What's worse, if an organization then tries to counteract these rumors with denials it only makes things worse and scientific research backs this up. A
recent article in the newspaper The Economist describes the results of this research and provides advice on the best strategy that organizations should adopt. The advice is remarkably simple: generate a stream of good news, create good publicity and build up a reputation for being a reliable source of information.

Here is the link to that article. It's really worth reading.  

La puissance de l'Internet
The power of the Internet

Depuis quelques semaines je donne un coup de main à  la filliale d'Hudson de la Légion Royale et à  leur club de curling pour revitaliser un peu leur site web et de le maintenir à  jour.

Lorsque je cherchais des sources de nouvelles et de l'information à  propos de curling j'ai trouvé un site web qui s'appelle Skip Cottage Curling o๠l'on peut trouver des informations sur les événements de curling en Écosse et autour du monde ainsi que des éditoriaux et des commentaires. J'ai lu certains des articles qui y sont affichés et quand je suis arrivé à  la rubrique éditoriale d'octobre 2010 je me suis soudainement senti comme si je regardais un miroir parce que ce que l'auteur de la rubrique avait décrit était très similaire à  ce qui s'est passé concernant ce site web. La seule différence était le choix du sport, mais toutes les autres caractéristiques étaient similaires.

Je me suis senti soulagé et encouragé par le fait qu'il y avait une autre personne qui partageait les mêmes objectifs que moi, qui était aussi passionné par le sport qui lui était cher et qui cherchait à  atteindre les mêmes buts. Le site web o๠l'on peut trouver le texte original est ici. Je l'ai également reproduit ci-dessus à  la colonne gauche dans sa forme originale. Dans la colonne droite, je l'ai adopté légèrement en changeant seulement quelques mots ici et là . Par exemple, au lieu d'utiliser le mot « curling Â» j'ai mis « football Â» et là  o๠l'on mentionne RCCC (Royal Caledonian Curling Club), j'ai mis St-Lazare Football Association. Je vous invite, s'il vous plaît, de lire les deux textes et de me dire que c'est que vous en pensez.

J'invite aussi tous les visiteurs à  lire les autres rubriques que l'on peut trouver sur ce site, surtout celles pour novembre et septembre 2010. Je trouve que les sujets de ces deux rubriques sont aussi très à  propos pour la situation locale.

Si on considére la réaction que mon rapport sur le gala de la LFJQ avait provoqué, cet rubrique est arrivée à  l'heure juste.
Recently, I have been helping the Hudson Legion and their curling club to spruce up their web site a little bit and to keep it up-to-date.

In the process of doing this I was searching for sources of curling news and information and I came upon a web site called Skip Cottage Curling which provides information about curling events in Scotland and around the world as well as editorials and commentary. I read some of the articles that are posted on that web site and when I got to the editorial article for October 2010 I suddenly felt as if I was reading a story about the St-Lazare Football News because what the author of that editorial was describing was very similar to what has been happening regarding this web site. The only difference was the choice of sport that was covered but otherwise it was almost so similar it was eerie.

You couldn't believe how uplifiting and encouraging it was to see that there was another person who shared similar goals and ideals, who was equally passionate about a sport that was dear to him and who is trying to achieve similar goals. The web site where the original editorial is posted can be found here. I have also reproduced it below in the left hand column in its original form. In the right column, I have adopted it slightly by changing just a couple of words here and there. For example, I where it uses the word 'curling' I substituted 'football' and where it mentions RCCC (Royal Caledonian Curling Club) I have used St-Lazare Football Association. Please read the two and tell me if you see the similarities.

Also, I strongly recommend that you read the other editorials that are on the curling site, especially the ones for November and September 2010. I find that they also sound hauntingly familiar.

Judging from the reaction that my report on the QJFL banquet has triggered this article couldn't have come at a better time.

Original article as it appears on the Skip Cottage Curling web site.

La rubrique originale telle qu'elle apparaît sur le site de Skip Cottage Curling.

The same article modified by substituting only a few words to convey the story behind this web site

La même rubrique mais avec quelques changements qui la rende à  propos à  ce site.

What am I doing? That's today's question. Many of my friends have asked me about the blog, and what my plans are for Skip Cottage Curling. Most know what the blog is - it's an independent voice for the sport of curling in Scotland. Most also know how it came to be (if not, read here). What is its point? Where is it going and what is its future?

What am I doing? That's today's question. Many of my friends have asked me about the blog, and what my plans are for St-Lazare Football News. Most know what the blog is - it's an independent voice for the sport of amateur football in and around St-Lazare. Some people also know how it came to be (if not, please let me know and I will recount the whole story. Until now I have resisted the temptation to post it for fear of agravating even further the delicate relationship that exists between me and the St-Lazare Football Association). What is its point? Where is it going and what is its future?

The first thing I should say is that my blog activities are my hobby, something to do in my retirement that keeps body, and mind, active. Curling has been a huge part of my life, and has given me many opportunities. It is easy to say things like, "I want to give something back". But honestly, I'm not that altruistic. I'm simply doing something I enjoy. I like the challenge of finding information, of writing news reports, of travelling to ice rinks round the country, taking pictures of curlers of all ages enjoying the sport, and meeting people who also enjoy the game.

The first thing I should say is that my blog activities are my hobby, something to do while holding down a full-time job that keeps body, and mind, active. Amateur football has been a huge part of my life, and has given me many opportunities. It is easy to say things like, "I want to give something back". But honestly, I'm not that altruistic. I'm simply doing something I enjoy. I like the challenge of finding information, of writing news reports, of travelling to football fields around the area, taking pictures of football players of all ages enjoying the sport, and meeting people who also enjoy the game.

It's not a cheap hobby, as I discovered last year. I have my University pension which pays for the basics in my life. Running Skip Cottage Curling requires that I am able to travel and lodge away from home on occasion, that I have a laptop computer with a variety of software, and that my camera equipment is up for the job I want it to do. It would all be so much easier if I had a less expensive hobby. Stamp collecting? Actually yes, I do collect stamps and have an interest in thematic postal history, connected with curling of course! But that's another story which I'll tell some time.

It's not an expensive hobby based on my experience so far. Running St-Lazare Football News requires that I am able to travel away from home on occasion, that I have a laptop computer with a variety of software, and that I have some equipment that is up for the job I want to do. It would all be so much easier if I had a different hobby. Stamp collecting? Actually yes, I did collect stamps at one point but I found that it could be expensive at times depending on what kind of stamps one chooses to collect. I also have other hobbies like building models of cars and airplanes as well as some coin collecting but that's another story which I'll tell some time. However, the hobby that I have enjoyed the most for a long time now has been making breakfast on the weekends. Belgian waffles anyone? 

Initially I decided to fund the blog/online magazine for this season in two ways - by selling some curling stones and memorabilia that I had collected and which was really surplus to my own requirements. And to take some 'advertising income' from blog supporters who had come forward to help. Please support my advertisers!

Several blogallies had suggested I have a DONATE button. I am a proud person. I was not sure that begging for support was the way I wanted to go. However, I was persuaded to give this a try, and I have been stunned by the generosity of those who have already come forward with help. Thank you all.

*** This is the one area where the story of the St-Lazare Football News is a little bit different from the Skip Cottage Curling site because the existence of the web site costs me very little. I pay $10 per year for the domain name registration and only recently I decided to splurge an additional $36 per year for extra storage space and fewer restrictions on file uploads on the Freehostia web site.

The only other expenses are the travel costs but they amount to no more than $10-$15 per week during the football season.***

Last month the blog was visited by more than seven hundred unique users each day, with more than a thousand or so page loads in each twenty-four hours. Some days, many more than that log on. Of the visitors, most (80%) are from the UK, some 10% from North America, and, increasing, visitors to Skip Cottage Curling come from other parts of the curling world. I hope that every visitor gets informed, and entertained, by what they find. Of course my own efforts cannot ever be comprehensive, and I appreciate all the help I get from others. It's not always easy to find out what is happening, even within our own governing body, the Royal Caledonian Curling Club.

Last month the blog was visited by more than 60 unique users each day, with more than a hundred and twenty or so page loads in each twenty-four hours. Some days, many more than that log on. Of the visitors, most (90%) are from Canada, some 5% from North America, and, increasing, visitors to St-Lazare Football News come from other parts of the football world. I hope that every visitor gets informed, and entertained, by what they find. Of course my own efforts cannot ever be comprehensive, and I appreciate all the help I get from others. It's not always easy to find out what is happening, even within our own association, the St-Lazare Stallions, or any of the leagues that I cover.

Someone said to me recently, "You are a thorn in the side of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club." Let me state clearly that this is NOT my objective. I am a curler, first and foremost. Honesty and openness is what I care about. I have opinions, certainly. Occasionally, as in these editorials, I express what I think. Mostly though, my aim is simply to tell what is happening, and let readers make up their own minds, discuss things (for example on the Scottish Curling Forum), and act accordingly.

Someone made it clear to me recently that I was considered "... a thorn in the side of the St-Lazare Stallions Football Association." Let me state clearly that this is NOT my objective. I am a football enthusiast, first and foremost. Honesty and openness is what I care about. I have opinions, certainly. Occasionally, as in these articles, I express what I think. Mostly though, my aim is simply to tell what is happening, and let readers make up their own minds, discuss things (unfortunately, there are very few good football forums), and act accordingly.

Much of what goes on Skip Cottage Curling is about Scottish curlers and competitions. If this was all there was to do, it would be quite easy. But I feel that there is so much else out there in the greater curling world that blogallies* might be interested in, for example, the recent curling demonstration in Brazil (see here). I do spend time each day trawling for curling information on the web in general, on forums, blogs, Facebook and Twitter.

Much of what goes on St-Lazare Football News is about local football players and competitions. If this was all there was to do, it would be quite easy. But I feel that there is so much else out there in the greater football world that blogallies* might be interested in, for example, the recent spring football games in Cornwall. I do spend some time each day trawling for amateur football information on the web in general, on forums, blogs, Facebook and Twitter.

What bothers me is that there seems to be no-one in Scotland following in my footsteps. Where are the team websites or blogs? Where are the talented young curlers with media and photographic skills, or just enthusiasm, willing to showcase their efforts online? I see huge amounts of time and effort being put into Facebook activities, but this reaches only a fraction of those interested in the sport. I worry that when I am forced to finally unplug my computer, there will be no-one ready or willing to pick up the baton.

What bothers me is that there seems to be no-one aroung here following in my footsteps. Where are the team websites or blogs? Where are the talented young players with media and photographic skills, or just enthusiasm, willing to showcase their efforts online? I see huge amounts of time and effort being put into Facebook activities, but this reaches only a fraction of those interested in the sport. I worry that when I am forced to finally unplug my computer, there will be no-one ready or willing to pick up the baton.

In my daily internet travels recently I came across on a CurlingZone forum someone looking for suggestions for a name for their curling blog. I wondered why. It turned out that Jordan Bauldic is a student at Manitoba's Media College, the Academy of Broadcasting in Winnipeg. He is being mentored by Resby Coutts, a curling journalist who has been in the sport as long (or longer?) than I have! Resby has a radio programme about curling and a website,, covering all things curling in Manitoba and further afield. Setting up a blog is just part of Jordan's year assisting Resby. Check out Jordan's The Last Rock blog.

In my daily internet travels I see very few interesting web site about amateur football. Other than the very impressive site and a few notable exceptions like the Île-Bizard Vikings, the Beauce Dragons, the North Shore Lions and the Repentigny Rhinos the number of web sites with information about amateur football is very small. The Vikings are actually the only organization that has any kind of a discussion forum on their web site and you will find many interesting posts on it. Wow, giving members an opportunity to express themselves. What a concept!

What a good idea, I thought. An apprentice! That's what Skip Cottage Curling needs. Anyone interested? I have lots of ideas, do you? And you don't need to take part in any television programme! Get in touch.

What a good idea, I thought. An apprentice! That's what St-Lazare Football News needs. Anyone interested? I have lots of ideas, do you? And you don't need to take part in any television programme! Get in touch.

Une chose très intéressante est arrivée dimanche dernier lors du match entre les Stallions bantam et les Hornets de Jeunesse Soleil. Il s'agissait d'un événement qui se passe souvent en football, surtout au niveau amateur, mais pour lequel rien n'est fait, au moins d'une façon ouverte et transparente.

L'équipe de Sun Youth était déjà  bien en avant et elle avait le contrôle complet du match. Mais, après un jeu que les Hornets n'avaient pas exécuté comme il faut, le personnel au bord du terrain avait demandé un temps d'arrêt pour permettre un entraîneur d'aller parler aux joueurs. C'était bien sauf qu'il n'avait pas simplement parlé, mais il leur criait fort et son comportement avait définitivement fait sentir mal à  l'aise aux spectateurs.

Bien sûr, Sun Youth n'est pas la seule équipe qui fait ce genre de chose. J'ai constaté à  maintes reprises les mêmes choses faites par d'autres équipes comme, par exemple, les Cougars de St-Léonard et aussi même les entraîneurs des Stallions. La question qui se pose est : ce genre d'action, est-elle une bonne façon de motiver un joueur ou, en fait, a-t-elle un effet contraire?

Un article récent à  propos de ce sujet sur le site de offre quelques exemples spécifiques des entraîneurs qui utilisent des approches différentes pour motiver les joueurs. Cet article montre aussi des liens vers d'autres source d'information sur ce sujet comme le Wall Street Journal, et un autre article sur le site TSE.

En général, tout le monde est d'accord que, même s'il y existe quelques cas célèbres d'entraîneurs qui ont réussi malgré avoir souvent crié et hurlé, la tendance générale est que ces sont les entraîneurs qui utilisent une approche plus subtile et calme qui ont le plus de succès. Beaucoup de gens justifient les cris et ils leur donnent le nom d'une « amour par la discipline Â». Toutefois, si on ne peut pas motiver de cette façon des joueurs professionnels qui sont payés des millions de dollars, alors pourquoi suppose-t-on que ça fonctionnerait avec un joueur amateur qui est sur le terrain seulement parce qu'il veut apprendre, de s'amuser et d'accomplir quelque chose?

Je sais qu'on n'enseigne pas ce genre de méthodes d'entraînement pendant les cours de certification des entraîneurs. Je sais aussi que lorsque les parents se plaignent des entraîneurs qui se comportent comme ça on les traite comme des provocateurs qui n'apprécient pas le travail acharné des entraîneurs bénévoles. Mais, quand on voit un groupe de jeunes joueurs soumis à  ce genre de traitement, il n'y a rien à  apprécier. Les différentes associations, les ligues et, finalement, Football Québec et Football Canada, quand prendront-ils les mesures nécessaires pour éliminer ce type de tactique erronée au football amateur?
A very interesting thing happened during the game between the Stallions bantam team and the Sun Youth Hornets last Sunday. It is something that happens very frequently in football, especially in amateur football, but very little is done about it, at least in any open and transparent way.

Sun Youth was already well ahead of the Stallions and they were in full control of the game. But, after a play which the Hornets did not execute as they were supposed to, the Sun Youth bench called for a time out and a coach went on the field to talk to the players. However, he did not just talk to the them but instead he yelled at them in a loud voice, to the point that many spectators who were there felt quite uncomfortable.

Of course, Sun Youth is not the only team that does this sort of thing. I have witnessed it on many ocassions being used by other coaches scuh as the St-Leonard Cougars bantam team and yes, even Stallions coaches. The question is: is this kind of action a really good way to motivate a player or does it have the opposite effect?

A recent article on the www.the website deals with this subject and provides some specific examples of coaches who have different approaches for motivating players. That article also contains links to other sources dealing with the same subject such as The Wall Street Journal, and another TSE article.

The consensus seems to be that, even though there have been some cases of famous coaches who achieved success while often resorting to yelling and screaming, the general trend is that much more frequently it is the coaches who use the more subtle and quiet approach who have the most success. Many people justify the yelling and screaming by calling it a form of "tough love". However, if professional players who get paid millions of dollars cannot be motivated by this kind of approach then why would it work on an amateur player who is on the field only because they want to learn, to have fun and to accomplish something?

I know that they don't teach this kind of coaching methods during coaching certification courses. I also know that when parents complain about coaches who behave like this they are labelled as trouble-makers and ingrates because they don't appreciate the hard work of the volunteer coaches. Well, seeing a group of young players being subjected to this kind of treatment is nothing to be grateful for. When will individual associations, leagues and ultimately Football Quebec and Football Canada take the necessary actions to eliminate this type of misguided tactic from amateur football?

Le décès de George Miller / The passing of George Miller

Je viens de remarquer sur le site qu'on a annoncé que George Miller, membre du comité exécutif de la LFMQ et son ancien président, est décédé aujourd'hui après un combat déterminé contre le cancer.

J'ai des trés bons souvenirs de M. Miller, car en 2005, lorsque j'était le gérant de l'équipe midget et je devais comparaître devant le comité disciplinaire de la ligue pour avoir envoyé par
courriel une plainte à  Football Québec, il était la seule personne qui m'avait offert un peu de compassion et de compréhension.

Son attitude d'équité et de respect nous manquera

Mes sincères condoléances à  toute la famille Miller.
On the website it has been reported that George Miller, a member of the QMFL executive committee and its former president, passed away today after a determined battle with cancer.

I have particularly fond memories of Mr. Miller because in 2005 when I was managing the midget team and I had to appear in front of the midget league's disciplinary committee for sending a complaint e-mail to Football Quebec, he was the only one who showed some compassion and understanding.

His attitude of fairness and respect will be sorely missed.

My sincere condolences to the entire Miller family. 

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