November 17, 2014 Leave a comment
Hockey Helps the Homeless (HHTH) was started in 1996 as as industry tournament by Toronto businessman, Gary Scullion. Today, there are 14 tournaments held across Canada, and six university tournaments run by over 500 volunteers. Players are asked raise a minimum of $250 in addition to paying the $200 registration fee which pays for 3 games, a personalized jersey, some food and a banquet. Last year, the Vancouver tournament raised over $346,000 in gross revenues and has raised over $1 million since 2011. HHTH partners with 35 different agencies across Canada to support front-line support projects (e.g., the disbursement of survival kits, food delivery trucks, providing medical and counselling services, and renovations) and reintegration and transition projects (e.g., helping to prepare people to reintegrate into the workforce and independent living by providing life skills, funding libraries and skills training).
The growth of using sport for social change is becoming increasingly prevalent. Perhaps, Right to Play is the best known champion for the use of sport as a vehicle to build capacity, teach skills, and build solidarity. Now we have events, programs, and fundraisers such as the Skate to End Poverty, the Homeless World Cup, and a host of charitable runs and races that all privilege the so-called power of sport. HHTH has certainly identified an important area of social concern but while we recognize that HHTH does some tangible good for Canadian communities, we should also ask:
- How does playing hockey help the homeless, aside from raising money?
- If HHTH tournaments are so successful at raising funds, why are the number of tournaments growing each year?
- Is there any way that hockey actually contributes to homelessness?
- Is homelessness an individual concern or an issue for the government?
- Is money and resources all that is needed?
- If you told a homeless person on the street that you were going to play hockey on their behalf, what do you think their response would be?
- What role does the rising cost of living play in homelessness in Canada?