In June of 2009, Sport Calgary teamed up with two recreational facilities in Calgary for an event called All Sport One Day (www.AllSportOneDay.ca). The event was about exposing 6 to 12 year-olds to sports that they might not otherwise get the chance to try. Each of the two founding facilities (WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park and Cardel Place) offered several sports to choose from and after registering online, kids could come in and try them for free on the day of the event.
In its first year, All Sport One Day was a huge success. Not only did the approximately 500 positions fill up within a few days of the first announcement but the event itself was great fun and well received. There were a few factors that went into creating that environment, probably the most significant of which was the staff of the facilities themselves as well as members of the individual sports organizations involved in presenting the sports. As is always the case, the front line coach or instructor has the most direct impact on the experience of the participants.
In its second year, as a testament to the strength of the program, All Sport One Day grew significantly. The two founding facilities were joined by four others for a total of six, and the number of sports offered as part of the day grew to over 30. In the end, 1200 kids were able to participate which was over double the number from year one.
Today, was the press conference to announce the details for year three of All Sport One Day. I was very proud and excited to learn the event has grown again to now include 7 facility partners and 28 sport organization partners who will work together to offer 34 different sport activities. In all, the program has grown from about 500 spots in year one to an expected 1500+ spots available this year on Saturday, June 18th. The numbers are a testament to what All Sport One Day has been about since day one - fun. It’s about being involved and it’s about trying new things, and hopefully it’s about finding something you love to do. Ultimately it’s about living a healthier and happier lifestyle through physical activity and this is why fun is the key component.
Congratulations to Sport Calgary and all involved with such a great and vital program for Calgary’s youth. I can only hope that All Sport One Day continues to grow and becomes a model for similar programs like this across Canada and around the world. Have a great day on June 18th – I’ll see you there!
Read Full Post »
Posted in Sportsmanship, tagged Sportsmanship, Values on May 13, 2011 |
A few weeks ago a friend sent me this link to an article about a tribute the Montreal Canadians had for referee Bill McCreary following what would be his last game in Montreal. The friend was actually at the game and said the impromptu salute from both the players and fans at the end of the game was genuinely heartfelt. Sadly it is a rare occasion when we acknowledge the often thankless and yet so vital a service that referees perform. It’s important to highlight the respect officials deserve and in this case, a lengthy career of service to the NHL.
Even when they can’t buy a goal, the Canadiens never lose their touch as an organization. Prior to last night’s opening faceoff, Bell Center public address announcer Michel Lacroix acknowledged referee Bill McCreary, who was working in his final game in Montreal after an NHL career that spanned four decades.
When was the last time you saw an organization other than a governing body give so much as a courtesy nod to a referee, umpire or other game official for services rendered over an extended period of time?
For the rest of the article:
Read Full Post »
I witnessed a relatively small and yet very positive show of sportsmanship a few weeks ago. I happened to be coming into the Talisman Centre here in Calgary on a Saturday afternoon just as a girls’ volleyball tournament was ending. I couldn’t tell you if they were school teams or club teams but they would have been junior high or early high school age. They were taking down all the other nets and the activity was limited to one court in the far gym – it was the final of the tournament.
Parents were there, as were siblings and friends to watch as the match approached its conclusion. There was loud cheering after every point, and as is the norm in volleyball, the teams came together in the middle of the court after every rally to either congratulate each other after winning a point or to refocus themselves after giving up a point. What really caught my attention though, were two seemingly minor details as to how the teams conducted themselves at the end of the match. One thing they did that I had never seen before was to lie on their stomachs, all in a row, and bang their hands on the floor to cheer on their opponents as they received their medals. And like the players themselves, the families and supporters of the athletes also showed their appreciation for the opposing team during the medal presentation.
I also noticed something a little bit different with respect to the handshake. As is often the case, the teams lined up in a show of sportsmanship at the conclusion of the match. What I really appreciated in this case, was that it wasn’t just two lines walking in opposite directions with a hand held out. They were taking their time. They were talking to their opponents and I can only speculate as to what they were saying but the point is that they were actually talking. There was a lot of nodding, smiling, and the occasional hand placed on the opponent’s shoulder. This showed there was a mutual respect between the two teams.
To many, this might seem like a minor detail. There are those who would say that the main thing was the handshake itself, and even if it’s just a case of two teams touching hands as they walk in opposite directions, it’s still a sign of respect and sportsmanship. I would agree, but this was a little more – a little more mature, a little more respectful, and a bit surprising to me given how young the athletes were. At times like this it’s a little easier for the victorious team to be gracious, but if anything, the losing team was showing a greater appreciation for the victor, and thereby in reality, showed their own maturity and character.
And as is pointed out in the NCAA commercial, the vast majority of the participants will soon be professionals in something other than their sport. In other words it’s important to see the big picture. In the day-to-day world of the average person, how often do volleyball skills come into play? Not nearly as often as the qualities these two young teams were displaying in the process of playing volleyball. Even if a few of them eventually make it to an international level, the benefit of being a part of that team, learning about discipline, learning about focus, learning what it means to build character and show sportsmanship will ultimately outweigh any physical skill they’ll ever learn.
Read Full Post »
The next day for me was a real cultural experience. From the hotel we drove some distance through terrain that was very hilly and covered in vegetation, to the rugby grounds that had been cleared and plowed flat. The grounds had three secondary fields arranged around the main field that had permanent covered seating complete with concession stands and a P.A. system.
We ended up watching a game or two on the various fields before my new friend’s team played on the main field. His team was sponsored by a cell phone company and their opponent was sponsored by the local McDonald’s restaurant. The packed house sang “Old Macdonald” as part of the continuous cheering and singing that went on throughout the game. For a country that doesn’t speak English it was strange to hear the old children’s rhyme.
I was struck by the passion shown both on the field and in the stands and at the level of play. I was also struck by the sportsmanship and respect shown by the players for each other, for the officiating and for the game itself. This was evident in the fact that although it is inherently a rough game, there was never any ill will shown by a player on either team. At the end of the match, the players all shook hands and then came over to the stands to sit down for a brief ceremony in which the victorious team was recognized and a man of the match from each team declared.
What I found most interesting, other than the overall energy and passion the people clearly had for their sport, was the manner in which the man of the match award was received. On this particular day, a member of the national team was on hand to present the award (the award itself appeared to be a certificate of some kind). When the players came up to receive the honour, they shook hands, nodded and then sat down at the feet of the Fijian national team member facing away. I asked my friend from the hotel why the player was doing this and he informed me that it was a sign of respect.
For a country that is a series of islands with a total population of about 850 000 people, it’s amazing the amount of international success that Fiji has had, especially in the 7’s game in which they’ve actually won the World Cup twice. It was a real privilege for me to see first hand what a passion they have for the great sport of rugby in Fiji and how they’ve been able to manifest that passion in the success of their game on an international scale. Passion coupled with sportsmanship and respect they have for the game is truly Sport At Its Best.
Read Full Post »
Posted in For The Love Of It, tagged Excellence, Sportsmanship on March 16, 2011 |
Recently I saw an international rugby 7’s tournament (each team plays with seven players) from Las Vegas. It’s a really exciting format in that you can have a round robin tournament complete with a playoff round and championship game all in the span of a few days. The games are only 15 minutes long and as you can imagine, it’s a pretty wide-open pace in which the momentum can change quickly, all the qualities that surely played a part in the inclusion of Rugby 7’s in to the Olympic program beginning in 2016.
Ever since I gave rugby a try in my last year of high school, I’ve been a fan of it in its various forms. When my wife and I were in Australia in 2007, I really enjoyed watching the professional rugby there (both League and Union). It was exciting to see the passion the Australians had for the sport (not dissimilar to hockey in Canada) but it didn’t really compare to what we saw when we stopped in Fiji on the way back to Canada. Before leaving Australia, a friend told me that there really isn’t a place in the world as crazy about rugby as Fiji and that they have hundreds of players who are all big, strong and fast enough to play internationally. He also told me that every young Fijian man plays.
If you follow @sportatitsbest on twitter, you’ll recognize this photo taken in Fiji ’07.
The first week in Fiji we spent at one of the many island resorts. It wasn’t a huge island but I would guess there were close to a hundred guests and a few dozen staff members. I first started to get a sense of how passionate the people were about the sport when in the middle of the day, the entire male staff gathered in the centre of the island and ran rugby drills for over an hour. They did this every day that we were there.
At the end of the week we returned to the city of Nadi (near the airport) for a few days before continuing home to Calgary. When we arrived at our hotel, I talked to the man behind the desk and told him that I had heard that every Fijian man plays rugby. Without even smiling to indicate that this could have been an exaggeration, he informed me that although he was injured, his team was playing the next day and that I was welcome to come with him to the rugby grounds.
Read Full Post »
Last summer Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers pitched a perfect game – at least the replay showed that he had done so. The problem was that in what was to have been the final out, the umpire called the runner safe, erasing Galarraga’s place in history. You may remember the story because of how upset the umpire was upon learning that he had in fact missed the call and cost the young pitcher the perfect game. You may remember the story because of how Major League Baseball refused to reverse the call, presumably because of the president it would set. But you may not have seen what was possibly the most incredible part of the story – Galarraga’s reaction to the missed call, both in the moment and in the days following…
Read Full Post »
Posted in The Big Picture, tagged perspective, Sportsmanship, Values on November 8, 2010 |
This is not a great moment in sport in the sense that TSN or ESPN will never rate this as a play of the week, but it’s one in which the two teams involved might never forget. It’s a YouTube video of a high school football game played about a year ago in which both teams work together to create a moment much more significant than any championship either might win.
Read Full Post »
Don Meyer may ultimately be remembered as the winningest coach in American college basketball history but I get the feeling this is only a trivial statistic for those who know him. The wins are merely a reflection of how dedicated he is to his profession, to the concept of team and to the young men he coaches. The following is a video of Don Meyer’s acceptance speech for the 2009 Jimmy V award at the ESPY’s. This is an incredibly inspiring story of a man who considers his greatest achievement that in all his years of coaching all but one of his players graduated from college.
Read Full Post »
In previous posts I have written about the great sportsmen I was so lucky to have competed against in my skeleton career. Because they were champions in their own right, they knew the value of facing a great competitor in drawing out great performances in themselves (2. Emulating Gregor Staehli). I was very grateful to have had competitors that wanted me to be at my best because they had the attitude described by the phrase, “may the best man win”. It created a very enjoyable competitive environment that not only brought out the best in me but allowed me to be happy and supportive of the performances of my competitors.
In creating this blog I have had the chance to interview a great number of very successful athletes including several Olympic Champions and I always make a point of asking them how they view their competition. In other words, do they see their opponents as friend or foe and invariably the answer is friend. I accept the possibility that there may be certain sports that are more combative in nature in which a healthy dislike of the competition may serve as a motivator in the heat of the competition but this is simply not the case when athletes compete independently. I would even go so far as to say that most of the top athletes in combative sports are able to get themselves into an optimal competitive state without having to trick themselves into believing they ‘hate’ their opponent.
Your success in sport is dependent almost entirely upon you and often has little to do with your opponent. It’s a valuable skill to be able to distinguish between what is and what is not under your control as it allows you to focus on what directly affects your chances of success. Even if you are of the mindset that athletes can be intimidated, such a tactic will work at times with certain opponents but if your goal to be the best, you’d better rely on something more consistent and tangible, like your own performance. Athletes are better served to develop friendships with their opponents. It creates a far more enjoyable environment that is every bit as competitive.
The following is an excerpt from the book Flow by Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi. It speaks very well to the value of those relationships and the importance of taking the time to make them positive and enjoyable.
“Unfair bosses and rude customers make us unhappy on the job. At home an uncaring spouse, an ungrateful child, and interfering in-laws are the prime sources of the blues. How is it possible to reconcile the fact that people cause both the best and the worst times?
“This apparent contradiction is actually not that difficult to resolve. Like anything else that really matters, relationships make us extremely happy when they go well, and very depressed when they don’t work out. People are the most flexible, the most changeable aspect of the environment we have to deal with. The same person can make the morning wonderful and the evening miserable. Because we depend so much on the affection and approval of others, we are extremely vulnerable to how we are treated by them.
“Therefore a person who learns to get along with others is going to make a tremendous change for the better in the quality of life as a whole. This fact is well known to those who write and those who read books with titles such as How to Win Friends and Influence People. Business executives yearn to communicate better so that they can be more effective managers, and debutantes read books on etiquette to be accepted and admired by the “in” crowd. Much of this concern reflects an extrinsically motivated desire to manipulate others. But people are not important only because they can help make our goals come true; when they are treated as valuable in their own right, people are the most fulfilling source of happiness.”
Read Full Post »
This is part two of a series of four short videos of Beckie Scott, Olympic champion cross-country skier. In this segment Beckie talks about how she felt knowing there was a significant issue in her sport with doping and how she chose to deal with it and ultimately overcome it. If you have any comments on the post, we’d love to hear them. Enjoy the video.
Read Full Post »