Sport Quarterly

Quality Sport is a Team Sport

Author: Sport Nova Scotia/Wednesday, March 3, 2021/Categories: Sport Quarterly

Here’s a peek behind the curtain of what it’s like producing a sport magazine during a pandemic: I wrote three different versions of this column.

Version one started with an anecdote about how great it was to be back in the gym, coaching my youngest son’s U12 basketball team. We’ve all adjusted: I carry hand sanitizer, extra masks, and bleach wipes in my coaching bag. Parents fill out health checks for their kids in our team app. One of my assistants texts updates to family members while their kids are on the court. 

It’s a different season, but the same game. 

And then, as has happened many times over the past year, things changed. A rise in cases led to tighter restrictions, initially shutting down games in Halifax and surrounding communities for a month. 

Opening this column with “It’s great to be back!” didn’t fit anymore, so I wrote version two. But on March 4, Public Health determined it was safe to lift restrictions early, and we were back in action. So here we are—version three.

I share this story because it’s our shared reality. This issue will reach readers almost exactly a year after we identified our first case of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia, launching twelve months of changes and uncertainty, successes and setbacks. And while we all find setbacks frustrating, I’ve never been more aware—and appreciative—of all the people working behind the scenes, both in public health and the world of sport.

I’ve read the emails and updates from my community association, the metro league, and the provincial sport organization. I know how many people are working hard, across dozens of sports in dozens of communities, to give kids the best and safest experience they can as circumstances allow. And even in such uncertainty, sport leaders are seeking out silver linings and new opportunities. In this issue of Sport Quarterly, a common thread running through many stories is accessibility. Across this province, people and organizations are working together to ask, “How can we make sure more people have a chance to play? How can we address the barriers that stand in their way?”

You’ll read about how canoe-kayak clubs have turned gathering restrictions into an opportunity to work in smaller groups and broaden their coaching ranks, providing more support to young athletes. You’ll read how the Atlantic Coaches Conference is not only going virtual but adding French components for the first time, in order to reach more coaches.

And you’ll read about three new programs underway in 2021, all aimed at removing barriers and engaging more kids in sport.

A multisport program in West Hants is reaching a group that sometimes goes overlooked: teens and tweens looking for their first sport experience. A community swimming program is giving more youth from North Preston access to the pool. And a new Learn to Wheel/Junior NBA program in Halifax will provide more opportunities for young athletes with disabilities, from beginners up to high-performance.

One thing these programs have in common is partnerships: multiple people and organizations coming together to tackle all the details, from storage to rental fees to transportation, in order to create accessible and affordable opportunities for the people who need them most.

Every good sport experience is a team effort. That’s truer than ever during a pandemic, and it’s also true of how sport organizations and communities need to work together to make sure everyone can play.

This challenging year has also offered a chance to refocus on why sport is important. One Saturday on our way home from the gym, I asked my son if it felt strange playing a game with no spectators. He shrugged.

“Not really,” he said.

He’s still getting what he needs from sport: physical activity, spending time with friends, being part of a team. And I’m reminded anew of the little things I love, like watching a kid master a new skill and develop more self-confidence.

We know we’re not finished with uncertainty yet. But we can keep working together to make sure kids get the best out of sport—and that more kids have a chance to play.

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