Review: Why I Didn’t Say Anything By Sheldon Kennedy (2006)

posted in: Book Reviews | 3

Sheldon Kennedy’s book, co-written with James Grainger, felt like an accident of timing, having been in Canada in the year it was published and becoming the second book I would ever read in recovery. In between that gap of a year there was a news report about Kennedy and the catch-up explanation by the webmaster here about Kennedy’s life and career up to then and the general case background.

Why I Didn’t Say Anything (hereafter known as WIDSA) is a tautly written book starting with Kennedy’s early childhood in Manitoba, Canada in the first few pages, before life essentially on the road took over on the climb through the youth leagues of Canadian Hockey and ending with the AHL in Detroit and NHL in Calgary. As everyone knows, that training was overseen by paedophile coach Graham James.

The book describes the grooming followed by the serial abuse of Kennedy and other players by James almost wherever Kennedy played in his early career and the manipulation that followed when the abuse ended. The fact that this section of the book comprises 131 of the book’s 217 hardback pages, this should in no small way underline the effect that the abuse followed by destructive coping mechanisms had on Sheldon Kennedy’s personal life. For me, five months into healing, Kennedy’s insight into his experience and the effects of the abuse perpetrated felt like a bible in its own right.

The case was all in the news report I heard about, but the rest of the book fills in the aftermath. It also gives the background to Kennedy’s nationwide inline skate and the charity drives leading up to it, which raised CAN$1million for his own foundation, eventually donated over to the Canadian Red Cross. The skate seemed to be a high that springboarded into a massive low before hitting rock bottom and getting to sobriety, where the book ends.

WIDSA is also useful in pointing out how senior figures in Canadian Hockey were quick to disbelieve what happened or at least, Catholic Church-style, move James off to another team elsewhere, to the point where James racked up almost 100 other victims and the media became part of the problem by writing about the case too soon and dissuading other victims from disclosing and pressing charges. This led finally to the paltry three year sentence handed down to the offender. This shows how the sport’s managing authorities and the media acted in concert by accident to ruin the chance for many more players to get justice. Canadian Hockey management’s “patch-up-and-ship-out-to-play” therapy services also get some deserved criticism although we’d like to believe this has improved in present-day hockey players’ care.

In recent times when a male abuse survivor has featured on the Oprah Winfrey show giving his story and being treated with a little more respect than Winfrey usually bothers with, the description of Kennedy’s 1997 appearance seems much more like the packaged male abuse shows of old which were a ratings novelty turn. Sadly Martin Kruze was the other guest on the show and the kid-gloves treatment of one of his offenders helped to cause his suicide a few months after the show aired, and there is more detail regarding Martin Kruze in the male Survivor quarterly newsletter from a year ago, which you can download from here as a PDF.

Despite the fact that Kennedy reflected on being unsure whether he was helping anyone, the other useful facet of the book was the de facto nationwide disclosure which happened, and the “note-swapping” effect that took place across Canada at the time even without the book on the market.

So the book is more than just a sports memoir. It’s a short but bittersweet commentary on the effects of abuse on one male survivor, how dreams are destroyed and how life has to be restarted. WIDSA is analytical enough to help others whether or not their abuse occurred in the sports field. If you’re a newly emerging survivor it’s a book I would recommend in the same breath as a clinical bible like Victims No Longer. My very minor gripe is that the pictures are in black and white which is slightly cheap for a star sports book and the presence of some typos but aside from those minor glitches, it’s definitely worth having in your personal library if you’re a survivor, more so than just the TV film even though that won an award in its own right.

Theoren Fleury was another man abused by the same coach and the review of his book follows next. The Amazon page for Kennedy’s book is here for the US, here for Canada and here for the UK.

– CBG

3 Responses

  1. Peter Bonneville

    These crimes continue to be perpretrated due to the fact that the unlawful laws of this system, are based in the Babylonian Talmud which allows children to be raped by adults. If you wish to understand better as to the roots of the pedophile rings spreading in the world , look into the story of Sister Charlotte who describes a horrific story at the hands of the Roman Catholic Church, inside a Carmelite convent.

    The Roman empire was in fact another name for the Babylonian empire. Look also into the book of Esther.
    Religions were created by parsitical men to deceive the gullible populace. Our history is filled with lies.
    What people do not realize is that the Vatican is the house of Satan; it is a military corporation from which stems the creation of the military industrial complex that General Eisenhower warned about in a public speech.

    The Jesuit order which was founded by Ignatius de Loyola, who claimed to have heard a voice telling to say what he saw as black to say it was white, and what was white to say it was black. Right here one can see that the voice was the voice of the kingpin of liers, no other than Satan. If you read the Kol Nidre you will see that it is allowed to lie, cheat and break oaths with gentiles. This raises many questions about our history, in the last hundred years, as to why the real reason behind all these wars, doesn’t it?
    Did you know that the Vatican owns Lockheed Martin, Boeing and McDonnell Douglas among many more corporations?

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