Even Harper’s son digs volleyball

Harper took time out to watch his son play in Waterloo, Ont


Waterloo Region Record/ CP

Thanks to an unexpected visit by Canada’s first father last week, the Ontario volleyball championships were a considerably more high-profile event than usual. Stephen Harper was in the stands at RIM Park in Waterloo, Ont., cheering on his 13-year-old son Ben. Harper declined interviews; his spokesman told reporters, “This is just a dad here watching his son play volleyball”—which, considering the popularity of the sport, is becoming a surprisingly ordinary activity.

According to John-Paul Cody-Cox, executive director of Volleyball Canada, the star-powered tournament is part of a larger trend. While the organization doesn’t compile overall participation data, Cody-Cox says the national championships have ballooned from 530 teams in 2005 to 780 this year—a good measure of the “uptick in interest.” On top of “a huge boom” in travel teams, with parents increasingly willing to pay for tournaments, he says the sport has also experienced growth in recreational adult leagues.

In terms of participation, volleyball may have even eclipsed baseball. According to a 2008 Statistics Canada report, the number of people playing baseball plummeted from 1.3 million in 1998 to 520,000 in 2005—and just barely stayed ahead of volleyball as the country’s sixth most popular sport. More recent overall participation stats aren’t available, but it’s likely volleyball has now passed baseball. (Baseball Canada insists its numbers don’t capture the full picture, but its annual president’s report charts a 50 per cent drop in membership from 2004 to 2009.)

Due to volleyball’s non-contact, highly social nature, Cody-Cox says its popularity should come as no surprise. As for Ben Harper, who wears No. 8 for the Ottawa Fusion, Cody-Cox says he could have a future in the sport. “He’s got long arms and big feet,” he says. “You never know.”


Even Harper’s son digs volleyball

  1. You liberals will DEFINITELY find something wrong with watching his son play volleyball. MAYBE he's really a pedophile just likes watching the boys(remember his evil eyes). MAYBE he's a secret scout making money on the side. MAYBE he's rubbing it in to the socialists who DEPLORE excercise and sports for children and young people (dalton and his pre-kindergarten manifesto).OR, SON OF A BABOOSHKA, he's just interested in seeing his son involved in an activity that will actually develope his self confidence and his mind. BUT, you pinheads will find something. SAD.

  2. What?

    Just, what? There's nothing wrong with this.

    I disagree with Mr. Harper on policy and ideology, not on support for your own children.

    You seem to be on the defensive though, any reason why you seem to want to paint all liberal people with the same brush?

  3. I am uncomfortable that the prime minister's son is in this story at all. Let the man be a dad, for heaven's sake, without the write-up and the photos.

    The rise in popularity of recreational volleyball can be a story all on its own — Harper's son digging the sport, and especially his anatomical attributes for it, are of no particular importance to the story, and the Harpers' privacy should count for something.

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