John Chidley A blog about reading, writing, pop culture and sports.


A low day in lacrosse history

The Iroquois Nationals in New York City's Times Square as they await their travel visas.

As of this morning the Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team continues to be banned from entering the United Kingdom and therefore will likely be unable to participate in the 2010 World Lacrosse Championships in Manchester this week.

At issue is the Iroquois’ use of their Haudenosaunee passports, documents that for 33 years have been accepted by Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries.

Unfortunately, as all the citizens of Fortress North America know, in the wake of 9/11 stricter travel regulations have been put in place and the British now refuse to accept the low-tech passports that do not have any bar codes or electronic chips.

The Iroquois Nationals were scheduled to play England in the tournament’s first match later today, but instead the host nation is going to scrimmage with Germany.

The Iroquois are still hoping to make it to the tournament, but right now their participation is highly doubtful and they will be hard pressed to win the championship, having defaulted a game.

They’ll have a lot of hoops to jump through before they can play – although the American government has given them a one-time waiver at the behest of Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, they still need approval from the Canadian and British governments.

As I said on Monday, it’s a ridiculous situation. Ultimately, we’re talking about a group of people being barred from playing a sport they invented, because no one is sure they’ll return to a continent they’re indigenous to.

It’s madness.

One of the most disappointing parts of this story is that its roots lie in the best of intentions. The Iroquois have a national team as a nod to the native roots of lacrosse and the Haudenosaunee passports have been available to the Iroquois people for decades because their traditional lands straddle the Canadian-American border.

Although it’s obvious that the Haudenosaunee passports could use an upgrade, it’s apparent that the Canadian and American governments were negligent in excluding the Iroquois and other native peoples  from their new security strategy.

Why did no one foresee a day when an Iroquois passport holder would want to travel outside of the United States and Canada? Couldn’t this have been avoided?

This tournament has been scheduled for four years, so it’s shocking that the three state departments involved could find a way to accommodate the Iroquois.

It’s my sincere hope that if the Nationals are unable to participate in the tournament, the 29 teams from other countries find a way to show their support for their Iroquois friends.  One option would be for the other lacrosse teams, particularly the American and Canadian teams, to wear purple armbands as a show of solidarity.

Of course, the ideal solution would be for the British government to smarten up and agree to allow the 47 members of the team into the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, any chance to avoid one of the most disappointing episodes in lacrosse history has almost passed.


Back to the blogging!

It’s been weeks since I last posted on ye olde blogge, thanks largely to my ongoing involvement with the development of new content for Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.

But since I was waiting on some editorial turnaround, I decided to go on a baseball pilgrimage of the northeastern United States, touring the baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., the new Yankee Stadium and Citifield in New York City and then on to the oldest stadium in the majors, Boston’s Fenway Park.

It was at the home of the Red Sox that I proposed to my fiancé Katy, capping off an amazing vacation.

But I owe you, my readers, an apology. I was so busy planning my trip and proposal that I didn’t do my due diligence and post links to my most recent writing before leaving for the U.S. I’m sorry because I like to keep you all updated on my various projects.

Recently,  I’ve been doing some pretty exciting work for, including a draft preview, a free agent preview and a notebook, all on the National Hockey League’s Northeast division.

Even worse, my holiday matched up with one of the craziest fortnights in sports history. Let’s recap with a few quick hits.

Only Japanese officials from now on – Yes, early favourite Spain did win the World Cup on Sunday. But their victory, along with the results of many other games, was tainted by terrible officiating.

What was particularly galling in the championship game was that Spanish forward Andrés Iniesta’s winning goal was made possible by an undeserved  goal kick - the ball had clearly been deflected out of bounds by a Spanish defender.

By my eyes, the only consistently strong officials hailed from Japan, odd for a nation that has only recently taken to soccer. The 2010 was a huge opportunity for FIFA to expand its brand to North America, a chance that was blown by the officials.

Iroquois Nationals might not make FIL World Championship – In a completely bizarre situation, the Iroquois Nationals team is currently unable to attend the lacrosse world championship in Manchester, England later this week.

Inside Lacrosse editor-in-chief John Jiloty explains:

“The issue centers around the Nationals (a group of 42, all members of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy) traveling on their Haudenosaunee passports. For more than 20 years, they’ve traveled on these passports with no problem. But the United Kingdom will only allow them into their country if the United States will let them back in. And as of Friday, the Iroquois did not have that assurance from the U.S.”

This is totally nuts. Yes, they’re travelling on a very specialized kind of passport, but the Iroquois are all Canadian and American citizens and upstanding ones at that.

The idea that they might miss out on playing a sport they invented because they can’t return to a continent that they’re indigenous to is pure lunacy.

The Decision LeBacle – I know, I know. Everyone and their aunt has already talked about LeBron James’ one-hour ESPN special where he callously announced his move to the Miami Heat. But how can I not talk about it? It will undoubtedly become one of the turning points of sport in the past 50 years, not just because that hour of television was a public relations disaster, but because it’s going to change the face of free agency in the National Basketball Association, and probably other major league sports as well.

I’ve got a lot more to say on all these topics, but I’ll leave you on that note. Blogging on weekdays has returned! Brap-brap.