INFORMATION AND REGISTRATION:
TELS. +52 (322) 297 2400, (322) 135 5236, (322) 226 0404
Information: Sheraton Buganvilias Resort
Phone: 52 (322) 2972400 or Cel phone 322 1219432.
Attn: Verónica Alarcón, Event Coordinator.
"Mexican Sports Vacation Serves Whole Enchilada" By Guy MacPherson
With summer nearing its end, many Canadians start dreaming of warmer climes. Here in Vancouver, we never stopped. After this mostly miserable season, I think we all owe David Duchovny a big apology.
Vancouverite Howard Kelsey doesn’t have to dream. He’ll be back in sunny Mexico, where he spends part of each year. And he wants you to join him each May in a sports-vacation getaway in Puerto Vallarta.
In 1990 Howard Kelsey started a humble basketball tournament in Puerto Vallarta for his friends who wanted to visit, just six teams playing on an outdoor court. Over the years, sponsors have come in, other sports have joined in, and the thing has grown to the point where next May’s “Sports Classic” reflects not just the year, but the number of anticipated participants.
“A lot of my friends are basketball junkies”. “They phoned and said, ‘We want to go to Mexico for our vacation, but we want to play. Set up a tournament.’ So we did. At the time, Puerto Vallarta didn’t even have an indoor gym.”
They have a gym now. It may not be air-conditioned, but it beats playing in the blazing sun. With more than 16 teams going, games run from 8 a.m. to midnight every day in 30ºC heat. The whole town comes out to watch.
Richard Cohee was the Vancouver Grizzlies’ manager of community relations. He’s made the trip every year but the first. “The fans are incredible,” he says. “For a 2 o’clock game, the gym is three-quarters full. The final is overflowing, people are cheering for you, they want pictures with you. It’s a real feel-good thing. They love the sport and love seeing somebody who can play.”
So you’re thinking: “I’m not a high-level athlete. What the hell am I going to do down there?” You have a point. Cohee, 31, played for the University of Regina, then played a little pro ball in the Netherlands and Taiwan. Kelsey played on the 1980 and ’84 Canadian Olympic teams. He still holds the B.C. high-school record for highest career average points per game, 37.5 for Point Grey. Next year, he’s expecting 10 to 12 veterans of the Canadian national team.
“Obviously, we want some celebrity players, good players who are positive and fun,” Kelsey says. “We don’t want a bunch of overweight guys that can’t play at all. But at the same time, we don’t want it to be so high-quality that recreational players like yourself can’t go and play.”
I’m not sure how to take that, but the idea is tempting. Of course, it might have to be in the newly formed slow-pitch softball division. How many ex-professional slow-pitch players can there be? Mind you, the games will be played at a triple-A stadium donated to the city by major-leaguer Jose Canseco, so you never know.
There are plenty more sports tournaments to choose from. Besides men’s, women’s and youth basketball and softball, there’s a 5-kilometer race, and a massive (150 + teams) youth and master’s soccer divisions.
Each sport has its own Director, but Kelsey and Co-Chair, Lic. Gemma Garciarce, the owner of the home-base Sheraton resort, oversee the whole enchilada.
“Any person that’s got their own individual passion in sports – whatever you want to do – we’ll accommodate you, provided we have enough lead time and a competent enough director,” Kelsey says.
Several times throughout the course of our talk, Kelsey refers to the tournament as a “buffet” for sports. “If you want to participate, you do. If you want to watch, you watch. If you don’t want to do anything, just stay at the hotel. We just set the table and people can take what they want from the buffet. Let’s face it, when you’re on vacation, after two days you get bored. You don’t want to lie at the pool all day long.”
Although the focus is sports, everyone realizes they are, first and foremost, just an excuse. Everyone wants to win, but the question on everyone’s mind is what the social activities are?
“At the end of the day,” Kelsey says, “it’s a vacation with sports thrown in.”
Consider this. Kelsey and company charge CDN $ 300., which includes: five days and four nights at the Sheraton; official event T-shirt; an opening-night open-bar cocktail party and fireworks display hosted by the Mayor of Puerto Vallarta; sports participation; and a party every night at the local watering hole.
“It’s a great opportunity to mingle with people from all over the place,” Cohee says. “It’s pretty amazing. That’s why I keep going back. We get so many different guys to go just by showing them the pictures.”
Kelsey continues to develop this tournament and tradition in Vallarta. “We enjoy doing it,” he says. “And things spin off of this. We never know where the stuff’s going to go.
One can register for events and make travel arrangements via their travel agent or online direct. The International Sports Classic runs May annually, but participants must register by January 15. By that time, you’ll need a little sunshine in your life.
If you don’t already.
More photos: http://canadaonefoundation.com/pvisc/gallery-2/
|Basketball Canada Alumni Newsletter 2nd Issue - Final
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IMAGES FROM PRIOR EVENTS
THE OPPENHEIMER REPORT
Yes, violence in Mexico rising -- but it's less than in Washington
By Andres Oppenheimer
After the murder of two U.S. consulate workers in Mexico's border city of Ciudad Juárez, many of you have written to me wondering whether it is safe to travel to Mexico. The answer is: If you are courageous enough to travel to Washington, D.C., you can safely visit most parts of Mexico.
Despite the escalation of drug-related violence in several Mexican cities, and the pictures of mutilated bodies dumped on the streets of Ciudad Juárez and other cities along the U.S. border, a dispassionate look at Mexico's murder rates shows that some parts of the country are indeed dangerous, but the country as a whole is safer than what the latest headlines suggest.
A new study by Brookings Institute Latin American expert Kevin Casas-Zamora, a former vice president of Costa Rica, helps put Mexico's violence in perspective.
According to Casas-Zamora's figures, based on United Nations 2008 data, Mexico's murder rate is nearly five times less than that of sunny Jamaica and about half that of Brazil, a country that was recently awarded the much-coveted 2014 soccer World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.
Consider his data of Latin America's most violent countries: Honduras has a murder rate of 61 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, followed by Jamaica with 60, Venezuela and El Salvador with 52 each, Guatemala with 47, Trinidad and Tobago with 40, Colombia with 39, Brazil with 22, Dominican Republic with 21, Panama with 19, Ecuador with 18, Nicaragua with 13, Paraguay with 12, Mexico and Costa Rica with about 11.5 each, Bolivia with 10.5 and Uruguay, Argentina, Peru, and Chile with less than 10.
Comparatively, while the United States homicide rate is lower than Mexico's, Washington, D.C., has a murder rate of 31 people per 100,000 inhabitants and New Orleans has 74.
``Violence in Mexico is concentrated in a few cities, mainly in Sinaloa, Chihuahua and Baja California,'' Casas Zamora told me in an interview. ``In Ciudad Juárez, it's out of control. But in the country as a whole, it doesn't come even close to Washington, D.C.'s.''
He conceded that Mexico's murder rates may have risen in recent months as a result of the cross fire between Mexican security forces and the drug cartels, and between the drug cartels themselves. But he added that they are still significantly below what they were 10 years ago.
Largely for demographic reasons -- Mexico's birth rates are dropping and large numbers of Mexicans have been migrating to the United States in recent decades -- murder rates in Mexico have been falling steadily for decades. They may have picked up only marginally over the past year, he said.
The U.S. State Department's latest travel alert to Mexico, issued following the killings of the two U.S. consular workers in Ciudad Juárez, says it has temporarily authorized the departure of relatives of U.S. consular workers in the Northern Mexican border cities of Tijuana, Nogales, Ciudad Juárez, Nuevo Laredo, Monterrey and Matamoros, and advises U.S. citizens ``to delay unnecessary travel to parts of Durango, Coahuila and Chihuahua states.''
As for Mexico as a whole, it says that ``U.S. citizen visitors are encouraged to stay in the well-known tourist areas.''
My opinion: Mexico is facing a dangerous rise in violence, and I would not advise you to spend your next vacation in Ciudad Juárez or any other place where the drug-related killings are taking place.
But Mexico is a huge country. To say that it's unsafe to travel to Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta or Cancún -- or that you wouldn't allow your children to spend spring break in that country, as Fox News' right-wing airhead Bill O'Reilly said last year -- is as irresponsible as saying that it's unsafe to travel to some of the biggest U.S. cities.
The State Department's travel alert, while correctly pointing out that the violence is concentrated in some Mexican states, should have put Mexico's national figures in perspective. It wouldn't be a bad idea if, from now on, it compared them with other countries' murder rates, and with that of its own home city -- Washington, D.C.
Coming Sunday: Mexico's six wars.
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