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The Fate of Toronto Mayor and Youth Football Coach Rob Ford

James Ryan

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Ford was asked what was harder—running a football team or working with city council.

“These kids listen,” he said. “City council doesn’t.”

Okay, I admit it. I’ve never been a big fan of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (that’s putting it mildly), and not because of any personal feeling towards the way that he actually does his job as mayor, but because quite frankly, the media tells us to dislike Rob Ford—so we do, because we all share the common love of hating on politicians and/or public figures who act imperfectly. It has become our greatest social hobby.

Rob Ford has been accused of the following: He was caught reading a book while driving his car. He failed miserably at his very public attempt to lose weight. He criticised a local restaurant’s lease agreement, which then resulted in a $6-million defamation lawsuit (bogus). He apparently doesn’t know where Michigan is. He was using his “tax payer” cell phone as a means for people to contact him regarding the football team that he coaches. He referred to the media as “cowards,” which of course, we all know is true. He recruited a few of his colleagues to help him coach a youth football team—something that was their choice to make and was done completely on a volunteer basis. He missed a meeting (and part of another) so that he could fulfill a conflicting obligation to the underprivileged youth of the greater Toronto area (located in the Rexdale region).

And the main reason why Rob Ford is probably going to lose his job as the mayor of Toronto on Monday?

Because rather than putting up the money out of his own pocket (no coach should EVER have to do this, regardless of what the critics think), Ford got the city to flip the bill on his team sponsorship. Go to any other city centre in the Province and you will likely find similar contributions being made on behalf of youth sports. It’s not that unheard of or uncommon. Or unreasonable to expect that our Government should be giving something back to children’s athletics, particularly after all of the ridiculously high taxes that we pay out.

Yahoo! News Canada reported that, “the case in question stems from $3,150 in donations to his football foundation he raised by using city letterhead and, allegedly, his clout as a city councillor. The city’s integrity commissioner found the money to have been raised inappropriately and ordered Ford to repay it.”

[Gasp]

Oh, the horror! Not the letterhead!!

According to city councillor, Gloria Lindsay Luby, the real problem with Ford coaching youth football is as follows:

“I’m a tax-payer,” says Luby, “and I’m not paying taxes so that [Ford] can do something that he enjoys very much, and I don’t blame him, I think it’s wonderful that he should be allowed to do his own thing, however, that’s not what I think the public bought into. The public bought into him being a mayor.”

And her point being what?

That somehow Ford can’t (or shouldn’t be able to) do both? That by holding a position in an elected public office, the mayor is then required to commit himself to his “job” 24-hours a day, regardless if it helps the youth of Toronto or not?

When I think of Rob Ford helping these kids, I am reminded of an old proverb: It takes a village to raise a child.

Perhaps this is something that Mayor Ford understands better than anybody. Maybe he sees this as an investment—one that I’m sure Scarborough, a city now synonymous with crime and gangs, could have benefited from many years ago.

Coaching youth football takes a near full-time commitment. This is precisely why you see so few community leaders actually doing it. It’s easy to criticize Ford for what he’s doing, but unless you’ve ever actually given as much of yourself to youth sports (asking nothing in return), you can’t even begin to imagine what it takes or what the true benefits are of such a selfless, giving act. People like Luby don’t seem to understand (or care?) that it has less to do with winning football games, and more to do with spending quality time with these kids and helping them to grow into the leaders of tomorrow.

Without a doubt, I definitely underestimated Rob Ford and I now have a new found appreciation for who he is as a person. Frankly, I could care less who he is as a mayor.

And if I were him, regardless if he keeps his job as mayor or not, I wouldn’t even think twice about missing another future meeting if the only alternative is that it means letting down his players (family) in the process.

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These are my opinions. If you don’t like them…I have others. Check them out at www.mrjamesryan.com

Follow James Ryan on Twitter @coachjamesryan

James Ryan
James Ryan

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1 Comment

  1. James Ryan James

    UPDATE: Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was found guilty in a conflict of interest case and will be removed from office.

    Justice Charles Hackland released his ruling on Monday, rejecting Ford’s claim that his decision to participate in a debate over whether he should repay $3,150 in questionable donations was a simple error in judgment.

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