Reflecting on 2015: The Year of Sport in Canada

The CCES would like to wish the sport community all the best in the New Year. As we dive into 2016, now is a good time to look back at 2015 and consider the lessons that can be learned. Below is a guest blog post that I’d like to share from our friend Bob Elliott from the Sport Matters Group. He does a great job of summarizing some of the ups and downs in sport from the past year and reinforces the notion that we are all share a responsibility to ensure that Canadian sport lives up to its full potential.

Reflecting on 2015: The Year of Sport in Canada

The Year of Sport has had some wonderful highs in hockey, soccer, PanAm and Parapan Am Games, Canada Games and some 60 international championships held in Canada. If you want to see some inspiring stories, all one has to do is reflect on Canada’s Top 15 moments in sport in 2015 as chosen by ParticipACTION and True Sport. Sport, therefore, had a pretty darn good year here in Canada.

Sport in general, however, has also had some low points this year. The FIFA and IAAF scandals, a number of sexual harassment allegations, significant doping issues in Russia and concussion concerns in various sports have many people questioning the value of sport. In fact, Nick de Marco (a Barrister with Blackstone Chambers in the UK and a leader in the field of sports law) suggests globally that “2015 may well go down as the most disgraced year in the history of sport.”

Thankfully, these examples are the exceptions and not the rule, but it does reinforce that we all must make a conscious effort to do our collective best to make sport the best it can be. People talk about “intentionality” and it sometimes comes across as a buzz word, but we need to use it in sport to ensure our children are exposed to the best sport experiences possible. As our friends at the True Sport Foundation often say, there are good sport experiences and there are those that are not good – some even potentially harmful – sport is never neutral.

Bad experiences will happen just as bad behaviour will happen, and when they do, we risk losing participants – possibly for life. However, if we are intentional about instilling values and principles – as outlined in the Canadian Sport Policy – we can minimize the risk of bad experiences and maximize the benefits of good experiences. In this way, while working to ensure a positive space for sport, we can crowd the unethical behaviours and bad experiences right out of Canadian sport at all levels.

The thought that we should look for opportunities to promote values-based, ethical sport experiences at every turn is an important one for Sport Matters. We believe that doing so does not have to be at the expense of competition or winning. These can still be significant aspects of the sport experience. For this to become more ingrained, and for the bad experiences to be less visible, we all need to make it a priority.

A quote by Edmund Burke illustrates this point: “No one could make a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.” None of us alone have to be the entire solution, but in order to be successful, we have to do what we can, when we can. We all need to add our energy to the effort. Please join us in doing so.

Bob Elliott, CAE
Senior Leader/Chef Senior
bob.elliott@sportmatters.ca