Will Amateur Sports Recover After COVID?

Simply put, if a sport or activity was facing participation issues before the pandemic hit, recovering registration numbers will be a slow process. And with only 38% of girls participating in sport, female sports is going to be a slow comeback.

Currently, both in-school and after school sports are on hold in our province. Complete seasons have been cancelled in almost every sport, and could potentially face this for a second round in 2021. Kids are not only missing out on the exercise, fun and comradery that sports brings, but the high school level athlete is potentially missing out on scouting opportunities and scholarships for Fall 2021.

It has been said ‘we’re all in the same boat’ when talking about Covid. We’re perhaps in the same storm, but definitely not in the same boat. Same goes for sports. From a recreational and club level standpoint, sport has seen a decline of up to 97% in participation and membership in some sports. The physical and mental health benefits from sport to Canadian society cannot ever be underestimated.

Let’s look at Swimming for example. According to Swimming Canada, “With restricted access to pools, approximately only 30 per cent of all swimming clubs have reached their 2019-20 registration numbers. Slightly more than half the clubs have seen at least 75 per cent of their membership return. Swimming Canada membership numbers are at just under half of what is normally seen in October of each season (September and October are key months to swimming members returning to the sport).”

With 282,000 individual training sessions completed, there has not been any recorded or reported transmissions at a club or university swimming training session.

Recreational, club and university swimming are often likened to a feeder system for high-performance programming in sports. The younger swimmers are the future of the sport – they are the future Olympians and Paralympians for our country. If we miss two years of recreational sport now, does a 2024 or 2028 Olympic hopeful team exist? This is a critical issue for the future of sport and could impact Canada as a nation.

As we all know, the 2020 Olympic Games were postponed to Summer 2021. 2016 saw one of the most successful Olympics for the sport of Swimming our country has ever seen. Penny Oleksiak broke the Canadian record for most medals (4) won by a single Canadian athlete in any Summer Olympic Games and was the youngest ever Canadian gold medalist. The six medals won by Team Canada in swimming was the most since the 1984 Olympics. The sport was on a high…and for the 2021 Team Canada hopefuls, there is much in question about what will happen for not only the future of the sport, but for their own road to the Olympics.

Winnipeg’s own Kelsey Wog is currently ranked in the top two for swimming in Canada. Her races, 200 Breaststroke and 200 Individual Medley, have the chance of landing her a spot on the Canadian Olympic Team this Spring. She has been dreaming about this moment since 2016. For any high-performance athlete in any year, the dedication and work ethic needed to succeed is off the charts. During a world-wide pandemic, things have taken on a new set of issues.

“All the uncertainty is the most difficult thing, not being able to know if I will have access to a pool or training facility tomorrow.  It has also been tough on (all) athletes because Olympic years’ are special and everyone puts everything into them, and now athletes are needing to put everything into this year again, yet it may not be possible to do because of Covid restrictions, so that is stressful and mentally draining.”

While continuing to train when she can, Wog has managed to trust the process and continue to strive towards her Team Canada goals. But it isn’t always easy.

“Having confidence and believing that you can do it while trusting the process, knowing you have given it your best effort and that you are prepared.  I have really struggled with confidence and believing in myself that I can do it, and this is something that I have worked on.  For me to me believe in myself, I needed to be confident in the work I had put into training, and trust that I have done everything that I possibly could to be ready for the race,” says Wog.

Wog is a huge proponent for girls in sport, and wants to see every young girl try the sports that excite them. Her support network, including her coaching team, family and friends, has been there for her every step of the way, which has helped her navigate this strange time as an athlete. The encouragement from her parents has been, what she feels, key to her success.

While there isn’t an easy answer as to how sport is to get through this time in history, it is important for us to understand that missing sports is a big issue for our country right now. We miss cheering on our Jets, watching the road to the Olympics for some of our hometown favorites, cheering our daughters on at their volleyball games. It is part of our culture and something that brings us together as a community. We need to ensure that we put in a valiant effort for the return to sport as a province and as a country, and do our best to keep ourselves and our kids active so the return to sport won’t be a question of if, but rather when.

Sportsmanship and the Olympics


“In the name of all the competitors I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, committing ourselves to a sport without doping and without drugs, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honor of our teams.”

This is the Olympic athletes’ oath.

The judges at the Games take a slightly different oath:

“In the name of all the judges and officials, I promise that we shall officiate in these Olympic Games with complete impartiality, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them in the true spirit of sportsmanship.”

These oaths are not just words, but promises.  Promises that these athletes and judges will act fairly and in doing so, honor themselves and their countries.

The faith in these oaths has been challenged throughout the history of Olympic Games and sport.  Many examples of performance drug use and abuse to have plagued not only amateur, but more recently, professional sports.  No Canadian old enough to remember, can forget the pride when Ben Johnson won a gold medal in the 100 metre sprint for Canada in the 1988 Summer Olympic Games.  However, likewise, no Canadian will ever forget the shame that came following the positive doping result that stripped Johnson and Canada of its medal.

There is also the unforgettable example of the historic and dramatic event of “The Whack Heard Round the World”.  This referring to the incident between Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan.  It was the ultimate in “unsportsmanlike conduct”.  In preparation for the Lillehammer Winter Olympics, Kerrigan was clubbed in the right knee with a police baton by Shane Stant during a practice on the eve of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.  This assault was planned by rival Tonya Harding’s ex-husband Jeff Gillooly co-conspirator Shawn Eckardt.  This shameful event risked Kerrigan’s chances of not only medalling but even competing at the Olympics.

As for the judges, there is always the rumor that judging is “fixed” or in some way biased or judges are bribed.  This rumor came true when a judging scandal in Salt Lake City temporarily denied Canadians Jamie Sale and David Pelletier gold due to backroom dealing between judges.

These examples along with so many other negative news headlines have stained the Olympic spirit and oaths.  They almost make us almost lose our faith in sports and sportsmanship. Almost…

It’s unfortunate that these isolated cases come to light on the world stage.  On the bright side, these ARE isolated cases.  These are not the norm. The vast majority Olympians and judges have honor, integrity and make us proud.

These 2014 Sochi Olympics have given us some more reasons to retain our faith in sportsmanship.  Two instances are top of mind.  First, is the Canadian cross country ski coach that handed a Russian competitor a ski.  The skier’s ski had broken earlier in the race during a quick downhill corner.  The athlete was not in contention to win at that point in the race – he was simply trying to make it the last couple of hundred metres down the 1.7 km course.  Justin Wadsworth, the Canadian coach, saw he was in trouble and wanted him to finish the race “with dignity”.  He grabbed a spare ski he’d brought for Canadian racer Alex Harvey and ran onto the track. Gafarov stopped. Wadsworth kneeled beside him. No words passed between them. Gafarov only nodded. Wadsworth pulled off the broken equipment and replaced it. Gafarov set off again. Wadsworth not only is a great example of the Olympic spirit but happens to also be a three-time Olympian.  We all need to remember his name – for his athletic achievements and this inspirational story.

Secondly is the story of another Canadian.  This time it is a speed skater Gilmore Junio who made the choice to withdraw from the 1,000 metre race, effectively gifting his place in the race to fellow Canadian Denny Morrison.  The 1,000 metres isn’t Junio’s specialty while Morrison — a two-time world championship silver medalist in the event — offered a better chance of earning a medal for Canada.  What a difficult and selfless decision this was.  Junio, qualified for one of Canada’s four spots in the event fair and square and even had family there to watch the event.    But Junio gave of himself for the betterment of his team.  Gilmore Junio is the second name I want everyone to remember.

There have been some “bad apples” in the past, present and unfortunately, likely the future.  However, I hope that we all remember that these are few and far between.  I hope that the media don’t draw much attention to these and we, as social media fanatics and fans of sport, don’t help to draw attention.  There are a tremendous number of amazing, selfless and faith-inspiring stories happening every day.  Not just at the Olympics.  These are the stories I want to get all of the attention.  These are the stories we all need to share, tweet and like.


What I Know Now

Life's enjoyment

I wish I knew then what I know now.  We say that all the time (us old folks or anyone over the age of 30) but what exactly do we wish we knew then?

I have a list…

–          I wish I knew that sun-tanning was really bad for you.  That sitting under the sun or in a tanning bed not only exposed your skin to possible cancer but contributes directly to the pre-mature aging of skin.  This is one of the things you can’t “un-do” from your reckless youth.

–          I wish I knew that it doesn’t matter how young or “clueless” you are, you simply can’t undo mistakes or careless behavior (for youth, think social media posts and pictures)

–          I wish I knew then all of the amazing things I know now about eating well and nutrition.  With so many new discoveries over the past few years regarding “clean eating”, “superfoods”, DHAs, EPAs, olive oil, flax, saturated and unsaturated, supplements, chia seeds, quinoa etc… we are all much more equipped now to fuel our bodies with cancer-fighting, holistic goodness than even 5 years ago.

–          I wish I knew then that a smart, confident, athletic woman is a sexy woman

–          I wish I knew then that sometimes men “just aren’t into you” and that is OK.

–          I wish I knew that planning for your future and your education is important

–          I wish I knew that no one has ever been, nor will ever be, perfect

–          I wish I knew then that no matter what you want to be “when you grow up” is exactly what you should do if it will make you happy and love what you do

–          I wish I knew then that blue eye-shadow isn’t for everyone

–          I wish I knew then that you should always dress for your body and not for fads

–          I wish I knew then that it’s ok, and even amazing, to beat your boyfriend at sports or games or be smarter or funnier than him

Although I can’t go back and turn back time, I know I can take all of this incredible “knowledge” and do two things: 1) continue to improve on myself, grow, blossom and evolve and 2) share this wisdom with my young daughters, nieces and all of the fabulous young women in my life.


Is Enough, Enough?


What you do is enough.  Who you are is enough.  What you have is enough.

Why do we constantly seek to do more, have more, or be more?  Isn’t who we are at the very present moment enough?  This is a question I struggle with.  On one hand, yes I agree that you are “good enough” and that you don’t need any more “stuff”.

On the other hand I think that there is more to this that just being “enough”.  If you take this at face value then whatever you do in life – your job, your parenting, your relationships, your volunteering and community involvement etc… is “enough” – meaning that you don’t have to kill yourself trying to being perfect – then I definitely I agree.  But is it enough to be satisfied at where you are in your life now?  I say no.  No one is perfect however I believe that you shouldn’t settle for being “done” at where you are now.  I think that you should strive for continuous improvement.  Whether it is being more physically fit, or a better friend, or a better employee, or more educated or more generous, humans striving to improve on ourselves is what makes us great as a species.

Knowing that some aspect of yourself can be improved makes life worth living.  Everyone could be more relaxed right? Kinder? Smarter? Sure!  As long as it is a step the right direction!

Sometimes taking a look in the ‘mirror’ of your own self and your life can be difficult.  No one wants to admit their faults.  But looking at your life and having a gentle criticism of yourself can be healing.

What if you look in the mirror and see a sea of possibilities of areas to improve?  My first suggestion would be to tackle the one that will be easiest to see results the fastest!  That way you will be motivated to continue to improve.  My second suggestion would be to write it down and set goals.  Whether you journal or put it in your phone, writing it down is a concrete way to make a goal reality.   A third suggestion would be to make your goal for improvement known.  Tell your mother, your husband, your friend or your co-worker.  Verbalizing your intention to another makes you more accountable and more likely to achieve your goal.  Finally, celebrate your success!  No matter how small the achievement, it is an improvement of yourself.  This is worth of at minimum a small “chair dance party”!

Remember that no matter what change or improvement you make, that regardless of the outcome, it is the journey that is the real treasure.  The whole intention of improving yourself and growing into a better version of yourself is the point.  You will never be perfect but you can be better.  We can all be better.

Role Models

T Box

What is a role model?  What is a good role model?  That second question is really the one that I find myself thinking about.  Most likely by now, you have heard about Miley Cyrus’s ‘performance’ and costume and the MTV Video Awards.  As much as I am not shocked by her lack of clothes and suggestive ‘dancing’, I am disappointed.  I realize that this is a young woman who is obviously trying to express herself, find herself and break away from her Hannah Montana and Disney persona.  I also realize that this is a free world and she can do whatever she wants to as long as she does not break any laws.

I do, however, have a problem with the fact that Miley is showing a complete disregard for her role in the media as a role model.  There are many young girls that have purchased her t-shirts, bed sheets, back packs etc… that are now looking to her to show them how to act and what to “wear next”.  Like it or not, she is a role model.  This is sad.  So, too, is it sad that Justin Bieber is a role model as well.  For a seemingly “nice, unaffected Canadian boy”, he too has disappointed me.  What is wrong with these kids?  I realize that money and fame has skewed their views of what is appropriate behavior and what is not.  However, I think that they do need to “grow up” and realize that they are being watched and followed by millions of young, impressionable kids, tweens and teens.  They should some responsibility for their positions in society; show some humility and some class.

I have two young girls and I fear what and who will be popular when they are in that stage of growing up.  Will the person they idolize be a star that turns into a drug addict? Who knows!

All I can do is try to expose my girls to other kinds of role models and let them try to emulate those whom I think set good examples of what to do in life.

I am not naïve enough to think that I am going to a) stop them from falling in love with the next Justin Bieber or b) not have them watch television or see a magazine with a scantily clad Miley on it.  I do know that I will do what is within my control to balance these with exposure for them to people I think are good role models:  their aggressive, kick-butt, kick-boxing instructor Auntie Trisha, their positive and business saavy Auntie Andrea, their creative and kind cousin Haylee, their generous, thoughtful and stylish Grandma Dianne, their supportive and loving Baba Joanne, their ambitious and talented Auntie Dani, their entertaining and fun-loving Auntie Moe, their smart and athletic cousin Jaimee and their strong and funny Great-Grandma Joyce.

All of these women in my girls’ lives are positive role models in their own ways.  They are all beautiful physically, but they are also beautiful inside – which is what makes them good role models.  They are all strong, smart women that have integrity and lead by example.  These are the women that I want my kids to look up to.  I hope that my plan to have them spend more time with them, and less watching those other “role models” like Justin and Miley, will develop them into becoming good role models to others down the road.