Flag-waving fan told to sit down
LONDON, Ont. -- The Brier's Flag Guy has been put in park.
Haliburton, Ont.'s Jack Cox, the elderly gentleman whose mad sprints with a massive flag have inspired Ontario curlers and thrilled crowds at 18 Briers, has been stopped by organizers, who are worried his dashes through the John Labatt Centre aisles are too dangerous.
London Brier chairman Peter Inch told Cox, who turns 80 later this month, the bad news on Monday. A day earlier, Ontario skip Glenn Howard chugged alongside Cox on one of his runs.
"I thought he should hear the news from the event chairman instead of some other person," Inch said. "I wanted to make sure there were no hard feelings."
There was a whole heap of disappointment from the Ontario team. They know, though, insurance and lawyers have much as much a part of the Brier as the brooms and stones.
"It's too bad," said Howard, who ran alongside Cox on Sunday. "I understand the concern about a lawsuit, but I wish something could've been done to allow him to run. Get him to sign a waiver so he wouldn't sue if he got hurt. I feel bad for him and I feel like he's pretty upset about it, too.
"He kind of made a point of coming down to tell us about it in case we wondered why he wasn't running today."
There is no black-and-white rule that says patrons can't run at the rink.
"We don't have a definite policy on running in the arena," JLC general manager Brian Ohl said, "but some of our (arena) people have seen jumping over chairs from this individual. We want everyone to enjoy themselves and have fun, but we don't want to see anyone get hurt.
"Our concern is for this individual and for everyone around him. We don't want him falling and getting seriously injured."
Ontario lead Craig Savill called it a "terrible decision."
"Let him run," the 32-year-old said. "He's a Brier fixture. He runs all the time and this is the first rink we've ever been to that has told him to stop.
"We all understand the concerns, but he's great. It's something he loves to do. The crowd goes crazy.
"We heard talk they were going to take his flag away from him if he kept running. But our team talked about it and we said if they ever did that, we'd all get together and buy him a new flag. As long as he wants to do it, we'll keep a flag in his hands."