Last updated: November 24, 2012 1:37 am
Owen Klassen: The morality of the matter
FREDERICTON (CUP) — Whoever you are, whatever you do, moral dilemmas will always be waiting around the corner for you; whether you are a student faced with the choice of writing a paper or plagiarism; a parent with the choice to spank their child or not; or a coach or athletic director on making a decision on a basketball player charged with two counts of assault.
Owen Klassen, star basketball player for the Acadia Axemen, was charged with two counts of assault causing bodily harm, in relation to incidents occurred on Jan. 28, at a home, and Feb. 19, at a Wolfville bar, the Anvil.
The morality of this situation is that Klassen was suspended a mere two games, and those two games were the final two of the regular season against a team that finished 1-19 in the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) Men's Basketball standings. Klassen was back in uniform the following weekend for the AUS playoffs.
This conflict was brought to my attention after Acadia and University of New Brunswick (UNB) played each other at the Currie Center. The Red Brigade, as well as many other fans, were cheering on UNB as well as heckling Klassen for his troubles during the Friday night game. The Saturday night game saw five rows of seats sectioned off behind the Acadia bench.
The Acadia brass will say that he is innocent until be proven guilty, which is an understandable argument.
Klassen is a basketball star, participating in the World University Games, Canada’s national development team, the Canadian Pan Am Games team, as well as training with the national senior men’s team this past summer.
So, you can understand why Kevin Dickie, Acadia’s athletic director, and head coach Steve Baur, want – check that, need – Klassen in their lineup. Suspending Klassen for meaningful games means you give up a CIS second Team All-Canadian and the reigning AUS Defensive Player of the Year. How can you give that up?
That’s an easy question to answer: By swallowing your pride and doing the right thing. Acadia had an opportunity to set an example of how athletes are not above the law, but being suspended one game for each count of assault? To me, that is an embarrassment. Way to sacrifice, Acadia.
For those of you old enough to remember St. Francis Xavier basketball player, Tyler Richards, you can skip to the next paragraph, for the rest of you, here’s a little info on Richards.
Back in 2009, Richards, along with then teammates William Donkoh and Eamon Morrisy, were all charged with assault causing bodily harm in an incident that saw a StFX student sent to hospital after being severely beaten, needing roughly 15-18 stitches to repair a cut on his face. The trio was suspended for the CIS Nationals that year.
Now that incident was much more severe, warranting a more severe penalty, but two games for what Klassen allegedly did, is still not enough.
This all begs the question, if that had been a player coming off the bench, and not Klassen, would the repercussions have been the same? I am going to go out on a limb and say the expendable player would have been done for the season, if not the rest of his days at Acadia.
It will be interesting to see how Dickie and Baur move forward following Klassen’s trial, which is set for Feb. 19, just before AUS playoffs.