Sport Quarterly: Taking stock as sport ramps up

By Jamie Ferguson, Sport Nova Scotia – CEO

As we head into summer, it’s wonderful to see sport programs and events begin to get into the swing of things again. 

For the first time in quite a while we’re seeing a fuller schedule of sporting activities for all Nova Scotians, and that’s a good thing. 

We’re also seeing some larger events appearing on the schedule, like the ICF Canoe Sprint and Paracanoe World Championships, our own Support4Sport Awards, the world sailing championships, and a little later in the year the 2023 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship.

For many people, this is going to be a move toward a return to “normal” in the sport world. It bears considering that for some of our youth, this won’t be normal at all, it will be their first exposure to this type of sport experience. For the rest of us, it’s interesting to consider what this “normal” might be.

During the pandemic, it was clear just how important sport is to all of us. We heard on numerous occasions how difficult it was when access to sport activities was suspended, or restricted. What also became clear was why Nova Scotians felt sport was important, and a necessary part of our lives. We heard time after time how vital sport is to all of us, and especially our children, for our physical and mental health and well-being.  

That’s a message that we’ve been sharing for a long time, but every once in a while it’s worth repeating. The benefits of participating in sport are significant and far-reaching. In addition to physical health, sport can have a positive impact in many other areas, including our children’s performance in school, social development, creating a sense of belonging, and even our economy.

Perhaps rather than simply settling back to what we knew before COVID, we’ll have a greater appreciation for what matters most about sport, the benefits of participating that make it so valuable. 

Perhaps we’ll be able to reflect on the incredible efforts of our provincial and community sport groups, our volunteers, officials, coaches, parents, participants and everyone who worked so hard during the pandemic to make sure some types of sport activities remained available for us. As activities begin to ramp up again, these efforts don’t stop, they are always there, behind the scenes, making sure we have places to play and compete. 

Sport has always required a total community effort. That’s one of the things that makes it so special. So as we head back to fields, gyms, courts and rinks, let’s say thank you to all of those who helped keep sport moving during the pandemic, and recognize that they’re still making it happen. Let’s thank each other as well. Everyone had a role to play in providing safe and fun activities. 

We know sport isn’t accessible for everyone. 

Too many don’t have the chance to take part. The work we’ve been doing recently with community partners in the areas of equity, diversity and inclusion has been wonderful, but there’s a long way to go. Programs like our Sport Nova Scotia KidSport program, which provide funding for our youth so they can take part in sport, have never been so important. Everyone deserves a chance to take part.

Let’s continue to work together to make that happen. 

So as we begin again, perhaps we will do so with a greater appreciation of the work we all do to create sport programs, and why we do it. Maybe in the midst of a competition we’ll still be able to think about how great it is that sport is happening, and we’re able to take part. Maybe our return to “normal” won’t be quite the “normal” we were used to, but maybe it can be even better.

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