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As you may have expected, the ejection of a curler at the Saskatchewan Men's Provincial Playdowns had to do with more than just a kicked rock, according to the official at the centre of the controversy.
Deanna Rindal, who ejected Chris Schille during the second end of a game on Saturday morning, gave her side of the story to columnist Kevin Mitchell of The Star-Phoenix.
“These games are being broadcast, we’re getting emails about the foul language and why isn’t something getting done, I was sick and tired of taking the brunt for their actions, and the officials getting blamed for it. So I said ‘Schille, you’re gone. Leave the arena.’ He asked what for, and I said for swearing. He said ‘all I said was damn it under my breath’, and I said ‘no, I have ears. I can hear.’ Then (third) Braeden Moskowy came in and was begging for another warning — ‘It’s the B final, it’s the B final! Can’t we get a warning?’ I said you had warnings all week long. No more warnings. I took out my stopwatch and said you have 15 seconds to leave before you forfeit the game."
As was stated by Amber Holland, Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Curling Association, on Saturday, there had been warnings issued to various members of a number of teams previous to Schille's ejection.
Indeed, according to the SCA, the provincial playdowns were plagued by bad behaviour on the part of a number of players.
Again, from Mitchell's column, SCA President Barry Whitehouse:
“We had incidents in Kindersley and Estevan, at the northerns and southerns, where we have spectators walking out of the buildings with their children because they just don’t want to hear this crap anymore. And we don’t want to lose spectators.”
Originally, it seemed Schille had been tossed merely for kicking a rock and he made his displeasure known on twitter. There had been whispers that he'd sworn at an official, which he categorically denied in an email to me. Specifically, I'd asked if it was true that he'd told an official to "F - off." He replied: "No."
In a quote to Mitchell, Schille admits that players did, in fact, know they needed to watch themselves while on the sheets:
“We knew everyone was on thin ice, based on what happened at southerns and northerns. We were warned before the event, and they came up and told us a few times, lower your voice or don’t bang your broom as hard. I guess that time, she’d just had enough. I swore under my breath and kicked a rock into the corner, and when I came off she said to keep walking. We tried to reason with her, and all she did was say 15 seconds, you forfeit the game."
Rindall's take on that is different, and that the expletive was clear to be heard.
In that difference in the detail, we still have some murkiness. If Schille did just utter something under his breath and it was not audible to anyone more than a few feet away from him, it should have been let go. If it was loud enough to carry and be heard clearly, well, how many warnings do you need?
It's looking an awful lot like Schille's being tossed was the product of not just that moment in time. That the sum of all the parts of some bad behaviour on the part of a number of players over the last few weeks became a little too much for officials to continue to bear.
There should be room in this game for emotion and displays of it, positive and negative.
However, if and when that becomes habitual and damaging, officials need to act. Warnings are absolutely no good as a deterrent unless they are acted on, at least once in awhile.
I'll bet that after "the curious case of Chris Schille," the message has been received.
Schille and his mates on Brock Virtue's team weren't really hampered by the controversy, it seems. After Schille was thrown out, the remaining three players went on to finish that game with a 5-3 win. After that, they won again on Saturday night and then took the provincial title with a 6-4 win over Bruce Korte in the final.