Episode 23 - Reflecting on Sport in 2023

Episode 23 November 21, 2023 00:27:39
Episode 23 - Reflecting on Sport in 2023
Sportopia
Episode 23 - Reflecting on Sport in 2023

Nov 21 2023 | 00:27:39

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Hosted By

Steve Indig Dina Bell-Laroche

Show Notes

Welcome to Sportopia, the place to re-imagine the future of sport! This week’s episode is a recap of Sport Law’s favourite podcast episodes from 2023. Hosted by Dina Bell-Laroche and Steve Indig, partners of Sport Law, this final episode provides a reflection on the challenges faced by sport leaders as well as our hopes for greater collaboration in 2024 as we collectively move towards Sport 2.0. 

Check out these blogs to learn more: 

Email us at [email protected] or contact us on social media @sportlawca to let us know what you want us to discuss next. We want to hear from you! Stay tuned for new episodes every two weeks when we kick off Season 2! 

Hosts: Dina Bell-Laroche and Steve Indig 
Producer: Robin Witty 

Learn more about how Sport Law works in collaboration with sport leaders to elevate sport at sportlaw.ca  

The Sportopia Podcast is recorded on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territories of the Indigenous Peoples of Canada. We wish to thank these First Peoples who continue to live on these lands and care for them, and whose relationship with these lands existed from time immemorial. We are grateful to have the opportunity to live, work, and play on these lands.  

Sport Law is committed to recognizing, supporting, and advocating for reconciliation in Canada and to actively work against colonialism by amplifying Indigenous voices and increasing our own understanding of local Indigenous people and their cultures. 

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:01] Speaker A: Hi, it's Steve Vindig at sport law. Leave me a message. I'll get back to you as soon as I can. [00:00:07] Speaker B: Hey, Steve, it's Dina. You aren't going to believe what just came across my desk. We need to chat. Give me a call. [00:00:24] Speaker A: Welcome to the latest episode of Sport Topia. We're so excited to share our knowledge and have conversations about healthy human sport. [00:00:32] Speaker B: In this recap of our first season, Steve and I are going to reflect on the last year, share personal highlights, and express gratitude for the opportunity to connect with sport leaders from across the country as we evolve towards Sport 2.0. Steve, before we get started, what's coming across your desk this week? [00:00:50] Speaker A: So I always like this section to, again, look at the calendar, look what's been going on, what emails and phone calls we've been getting. One I got just the other day was with respect to a person who has a criminal record, that usually leads to a conclusion that we don't want that individual around youth, around people, because of the potential threat to those individuals, or at least the reputation of threat of that individual. And that person may not be a member or a participant or a registrant. So the question comes in is, how do we govern these individuals, who we may or may not want to have at our activities? And one of the things that we've looked at is what we would call a no trespass order, and going to a court and asking the court to deny a person the right to attend a venue or an activity or a grander scheme of scope of events and activities. And that's one thing that I think organizations have the right to do, is to look at the way of potentially banning people that we feel wouldn't be appropriate at sporting events. And the first thing that we would recommend would be to just send that cease and desist that no trespass. And then if the individual wishes to fight against the wish, then we'd look at the court to issuing that no trespass order. So I thought that was something interesting for conversation, because not everybody has the right to attend our events, and we probably may not want certain people who don't have that contractual relationship through membership or participation to attend. [00:02:29] Speaker B: Interesting. It's so amazing, Steve, how our worlds are so different and the stuff that you do. I mean, I remember being when I was doing my journalism degree, oh, just a few years ago now, Steve, I'm. [00:02:44] Speaker A: Not taking the bait. [00:02:45] Speaker B: You're not taking the bait. Okay. And I remember thinking the criminal law and the civil law and common law, right. Understanding how we have lots of rules and regulation in our society, and then in sport we have our own little rules and the interpretation of that. So I love that. What I think I'm hearing you say is we can look at other laws and rules and norms that are kind of standardized in other realms and see how we can apply it to sport to help modernize sport, right, as we move towards Sport 2.0. I think that's really cool, Steve. So, you know, Steve, it brings me a lot of joy to talk about healthy human sport. And the work that I do when I'm not working in sport has a lot to do with helping support people who are bereaved, right? People who are suffering because they've suffered through a death of someone they care about and or their dreams have been shattered. When I work with athletes and coaches, often there's a lot of accumulation of losses. And I'm getting ready now to prepare for National Bereavement Day. And so it's exciting for me that my work and the book I've written, Grief Unleashed, is being recognized by hospice and palliative care associations. And as you and I are traveling across the country, it's also an opportunity for me to share my book and to support the bereaved. And this intersects with our work. Steve, often all people need is to be acknowledged. And so by providing some language and some empathy, people feel seen and heard and they can make sense of what's been going on. So I'm kind of immersing myself in all of this and noticing that this work, while it's difficult, it also brings me a lot of joy. So, Steve, in preparation for this session, it's our last one. I had a chance to review the podcast that aired this past year. And before we do our little year in review, maybe we can just pause and celebrate the fact that we actually pulled this thing off. What do you think, bud? [00:04:57] Speaker A: You know, where I'm going to go with this conversation is the variance, the difference between you and I, of being 3ft off the ground and 30ft off the ground. And you always come up with these bold, creative ideas. And I'm very focused on the work at hand that I have before me and trying to complete that because I know the next project is coming along. So the fact that you convinced me to do this, it speaks to the relationship that we have and really happy to be a part of this and to share our conversations and also to the fact that people are listening. And when you presented the idea to me, we had done some research in sport and podcasts, and there wasn't a lot of uptake to the number of listeners. And of course, being as busy as we both are, I didn't want to spend a lot of time doing this knowing that we wouldn't reach as many people as we'd hoped we'd reach, or we could reach. And in fact, I always will be the first one to admit when I'm wrong and don't tell my wife may not agree with that, but I was wrong. And we've had a really great outreach, and I think we've had thousands and thousands of listeners through the podcasts that have been released in 2023. So, really proud, really happy you made me do this. And what are your thoughts? [00:06:15] Speaker B: Yeah, well, anytime I get to spend with you in a more deliberate, meaningful conversation is really cathartic for me. And I think as we. I listened to our first one, the Ground Zero podcast, where we were a little bit echoey because we didn't have all the equipment yet. And it was fun to go back because when I was listening to it, I could feel, for me, I'm a dreamer. I always believe that there's a better way. I believe in sport. I believe in humanity. And this podcast, I think, allows us to dream big and also bring some Pragmatic, practical, grounded solutions to immediately alleviate some of the suffering that we're seeing. So I think it was really helpful for me to kind of go back and look at the ground we've traveled. And when I feel at my best, it's when I feel I'm in service of others. And so this podcast is one small way for me to feel like I'm making a difference, right? One small way. And as we're looking at the numbers, we know people from coast to coast to coast are hopefully benefiting from some of the stuff that we're sharing and feeling less isolated. There's so much suffering right now going on in the world, and hopefully a little bit more inspired to try something. Right. Or to reach out and talk to someone about some of these better ways that you and I are speaking to. So I'm really excited that we're going to continue to work towards season two. [00:07:46] Speaker A: I like what you just said with respect to the word inspire, and I think this is the platform where we do get to dream big and talk about doing things differently, and maybe that does motivate people. What were your memorable episodes, Dina, and why? [00:08:00] Speaker B: Well, we're not supposed to have favorites, right? I have three kids, and I certainly don't have favorites, but depending on what's going on in my life, there are know I might feel more attached to something than something else. And so there's really two that jumped out at me. I think the first is the grief and loss one. And I think it's because as I continue to deepen my own understanding of all things thanatology, which is the study of death and loss right back at university, kind of entrenched now in academia, and research related to what it means to be a healthy human, which includes being able to reconcile and grapple with our life when things go sideways. I think that episode for me is just an ongoing. I don't know, I feel like it's a gift to sport because the research doesn't. There's not a lot related to grief and loss in sport. And that's really where I want to focus. My next papers and my next projects is really deepening our understanding of the load that we impose on. The vast majority of participants in sport are under the age of 18. And so sport ought to be fun and enjoyable and healthy, and loss not need be such a bad thing to experience. And yet we see too often in communities, the adultification of sport means that kids are not having that great experience. And the roads lead back to loss, right, not being able to win, and the ways in which adults create an unhealthy relationship between the outcome and the experience for children, which is why so many of them are leaving. So I think that's a really important lens. As we look to modernize sport, Sport 2.0, we must also look at the construct of sport and our attachment to the big W, right, to the win at all costs. So there's that. The second episode for me has to do with Culture. And I think they're both intertwined. We had, I thought, a really beautiful conversation with Bryce Tully at Interlogic. And the work that they're doing to provide a platform, they're bringing technology into us, being able to quantify, measure this invisible thing called culture. And why I'm so appreciative of their work, Steve, is because back in 2009, I was doing my master's on the topic of values and culture, thriving cultures. And at the time when I had the research and I was communicating this, I wrote a little book on what I was able to find. I studied nine national sport organizations, and the evidence all pointed to an ethos of leadership that was holistic, that we measured more than money and medals, that we were also measuring the lived experience. And I have this little framework, and I was sharing this and truth be told, it just wasn't the uptake wasn't there the way it is now. Now people are ready. I think the environment is ready for us to turn the invisible visible and for us to use frameworks, leadership frameworks, and systems that are a lot more holistic. Those are the two episodes that really jump out at me. What about you? [00:11:37] Speaker A: I had three that were memorable, and they all correlate in some way. The first one was, what does it mean to be a leader? And what I liked about that episode was talking about and recognizing that, yes, it is difficult right now to be a leader in sport. So to one, to bring that conversation piece out into the open, and also to let people know that they're not alone. So I think the education or the communication or the ability to talk about that difficulty in being a sport leader right now hopefully made people feel that they're not alone. There are resources out there to have conversations about the difficulty in being that leader. The second episode I liked was finding the right directors, and I'm going to even extend that into finding the right people. And it's something that I've been talking about across the country on the hope, on the rise and tours, is finding the right people, not just people, but the right people, and focusing on doing that. And that segues into the third episode, which was less is more amalgamation in sport. And as we've learned, Dina, in our travels, a lot of organizations are. I don't want to say opposed to amalgamation, but they're cautious of amalgamation. And some people use the word sharing in sport. And I really want to continue to advocate, to take the time to find the right people with the right skill set, with the right diverse background, and then maybe we can share those people, or we can share the resources, because what we're finding is that people keep saying, oh, you're having the same problem. So, is there a way, again, to share people, to share experiences, to share learnings, and that we're not on this hamster wheel together. So I'm really advocating for recognizing that right now, sport is hard and challenging and quite different than it was five years ago, ten years ago, let alone 20 years ago. But there's a lot of similarities that we're seeing across organizations, from a capacity issue, from an experience skills based issue, and that sharing and maybe amalgamation could alleviate some of that. Those were my three. Just, again, to see some. Hopefully, in the future, we'll see some, maybe streamlining of a lot of different organizations, or at least from a resource perspective, we've been traveling, Dina, across the country since March of this year, 2023, when, again, you came up with the idea of let's travel across the country, which we labeled it the hope on the horizon tour. And what were some of your biggest Aha. Moments? Now that we've completed eight stops across the country in a lot of different provinces and territories? [00:14:38] Speaker B: Well, it's beautiful, actually. A nice segue to sharing as a form of caring. And I think that that's really what inspired us, right, to travel across the country to kind of focus more on. We call it the meat in the sandwich, right? The provincial and territorial leaders from coast to coast to coast, who often they will tell us, feel like they're the forgotten ones, right? They have to nestle under a traditional sport environment, from national down to provincial, down to club. So that's more traditional sport delivery. But also they feel the pull and the alliance to their provincial funding body. And so often they're like the push pull factor of who is my boss? What membership do I belong to? And as we know, the difference across the country, the different cultures, the different reasons for being involved in sport are really starting to become online, I think, for many of us. So some of the things that I was really reminded of is in community. For most of the people we talked about, it's not about high performance sport at all. It's about healthy, human sport. It's about inclusive sport. It's about modernizing our infrastructure to make it more accessible, more welcoming for people. And so the things that the provincial sport leaders and territorial sport leaders are grappling with are a little bit removed from what the national scene is grappling with. And so I think it was such a healthy reminder for us. And I would know another thing that's really jumping out at me is you and I are coming and traveling across the country. And in some cases, when we're, for instance, in NWT, Northwest Territories, or the Yukon, or even in Nunavut, their lived reality, know they're playing basketball, maybe in the library, their lived reality is so different. And what's inspiring with these leaders is how resourceful they are. So when we talk about things like amalgamation, like sharing as a new form of caring, how doing it differently, I think we can learn a lot from our northern partners and the islanders, who tend to be really resourceful because they've had to battle some of the elements, right? The elements of weather and Mother Nature. So that really stood out at me. And I would say the final big Aha is how exhausted people are. Steve, as we go across the country, most of the people in the audience are like north of 45. So I'm asking, where is the next generation? And sports, typically, when we look at the audience, still very white. And so I think it's really important for us to acknowledge that as we want sport to become more inclusive, we need to ensure that the systems, the structures, the images, the environment, the culture is actually walking the talk with respect to the promise that sport can deliver on. Right. But we have to ensure that sport, if we're going to invite people to the party, we have to ensure that there's a place for them. And right now, I think people are really acknowledging, ooh, when we turn to the right and to the left, it's people like. So I was really inspired by. I think it was Mr. Reed at one of our stops in the know, our indigenous elder, who opened up this territory. And when we invited him to introduce himself, he talked about his ancestors, and he talked about the impact of sport on his community, and he talked about why sport was so important and left us with a parting gift of what we would call sustainability. In indigenous wisdom. It's seven generations. Can we create sport now? That's going to sustain for seven generations? So those are some of my highlights. Steve, what about you? [00:18:56] Speaker A: I was shocked, Dina, with the number of stops that we made where we realized it was really the first time all the provincial territorial leaders had really gotten together in person. So there was a lot of people in the room, one who were new to their role, who were new to the PSO or the TSO, and they didn't know all the other counterparts that existed. And that, again, it was the first time that they had gotten together to have these kind of conversations. So I love the fact that we were able to bring people together. I also recognized that the questions and the feedback that we received, really, across the country was very consistent. So that was good to know that people were kind of struggling with the same issues, and also to recognize that those same issues were being shared by others, which would hopefully create an environment again, to break down those silos, those walls, to start creating a conversation within each province and territory, or even maybe bigger than that, where they can do things together. And I think that was a big learning for me and for people who attended to say, wow, all of you are struggling with this. It's not just one group. And it was really nice to see, not that they were struggling, but people to recognize that those struggles were consistent, and people were talking and sharing phone numbers and emails and trying to be able to say, well, can I call you and talk to you how you've dealt with this particular matter? So that was really interesting for me. And the third highlight was, again, to recognize the consistency of issues that everybody has. And hopefully the conversations did move into how can we break those silos down? How can we do this together? And I hope that continues to happen. So part of the next question that we want to talk about, Dean, is what are we looking ahead to 2024 and what are we hopeful about? What are we anticipating? And for me, it's really that continued conversation of can we keep doing things together and simplify the complexity of being a sport leader in today's environment? And if we know there's resources and other PSO or TSOs who are dealing with these issues, can we share those resources so we don't have to continually recreate the wheel over and over again? So what are you looking forward to, Dina, in 2024? [00:21:26] Speaker B: Well, a few things, as I think of where sport is going in this transition that we must move through. I want to acknowledge for people, as someone who helps people in life transition, that even though transition is often hard because we're letting go of a known way of being, even as we're inspired to move towards something else in this liminal space that we're in. Right. In transition, it's supposed to be hard. And I think that as we acknowledge that, people feel a little bit relieved. Oh, I'm supposed to be uncomfortable. So my invitation for people is to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. The second thing that you said that really resonated with me, Steve, is even though we're in transition and transition, we're going to feel a little lonely because nobody is actually in walking in my shoes, we don't have to feel so isolated. And I remember in the Yukon, one of the know, we were talking a lot about risks and some of the threats that we were dealing with and all the angst that we were going through. And this participant younger woman said, hold on, I want to share a really inspiring story of what we're doing right here in the Yukon. I think she was from snowboard and she talked about community building through her sport and how the kids were having fun and the families were coming out. And I was so inspired by that. And out of that, I think back to your question about 2024. I'm committed to helping share stories and make examples out of exemplars. Right. How can we share some of these inspiring stories? And when we know more and we know better, we hopefully do better. Right. We're inspired to do better. So I think that's really important. I'm also noticing, Steve, that I think, and we've been writing about this for a whiLe, that beyond sports safety, we're seeing an exhaustion now from the people we've been talking to that want to move beyond the sports safety focus. They really are ready to talk about something better, something holistic, something that's going to more align with their values. And so safety, if we just use Maslov's hierarchy of needs, safety as a baseline, physical and emotional and psychological safety is bare necessity. But beyond that, we want to invite people to belong and to self actualize. So I'm seeing and hearing people longing for more frameworks, more language that describes the sport we want more of, not just running away from the sport we don't want. And what's exciting for me is we can look at existing frameworks. True sport comes to mind. And our friends that respect in sport that are doing, they're using what we would call strength based language to talk about what we want more of, which is super exciting for me. And then the final thing that I'm really excited about, and we've been advocating for this again for a long time, and that's investing in people. So we do a lot of work around leadership development. We are professional coaches that support the people inside sport to deal better with issues, but also self actualize. So I'm anticipating that people are going to make use of the myriad of support systems that we already have in place, like the sport leaders retreat, like the Nova profile, like coaching and teamwork. I think I'm seeing now more people calling me and saying, hey, can we work with you to invest in our people? Right? So beyond just the punitive measures, like really looking for holistic human development approaches. So that's what's got me really excited. Steve? [00:25:20] Speaker A: I would almost summarize that, Dina, to say we are hoping in 2024 that people are far more proactive than reactive. [00:25:29] Speaker B: Yeah, well said. [00:25:30] Speaker A: And thinking about how to create that positive environment. How do we create that? And it's with the right people and the right training and the right investment. So I'm with you and looking forward to 2024. In the episode notes below, you'll find some sport law blogs where you can find more information related to our vision for Sport 2.0 and some considerations in how to achieve our vision. Thank you so much to our listeners. We are so grateful to have shared the past year with all of your listeners. And you know, Dino, we started this journey did you really believe that we would capture more than 3000 listeners in our first year? You know that I did not think that to be possible. [00:26:11] Speaker B: And you know that I did. So I'm just so delighted, Steve. It's been a blast. I mean, what's kind of comforting for me is that you and I would have these conversations anyway, right? What we've done is we've made some of our private conversations more public, and hopefully our 3000 plus listeners have gotten something out of this. And what I really hope for in 2024 is we get more engagement that people reach out to us at hello at Sportlaw, CA, or on social media at Sportlawca to let us know what you want us to focus on. And if you know someone who could be a great guest, we want to move beyond just right. Steve and Dina talking about things that we believe are important to also make examples out of exemplar. So if you know a sport exemplar that you think could elevate the conversation, could help us navigate some of these complex times, please let us know. So stay tuned for the next episode, the next season of Sportopia. And until then, be well, channel.

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