Canadian sport: the greatest gift to the nation (Part 1)

It’s easy to be mightily impressed when searching for the most significant contributions of Canadian nationhood to sport over the course of 150 years.

Ice hockey is king in Canada. Its greatest players and teams has been produced here. Curling has blossomed into the national pastime and was nurtured in Prairie soil, while it was originally carved on the Scottish island of Ailsa Craig out of craggy rocks.

A Canadian indigenous game of lacrosse and invented basketball stands the test of time. Canada provided the canoe to the Olympics.

But over the course of history there are other tangible gifts to the international sporting arena. It was Dr. Frank Hayden, a Canadian who founded the Special Olympics which promote athletic endeavour and physical activity with emotional and intellectual challenges for people.

The sport of wheelchair rugby which has become the para-sport movement’s centrepiece was a thrilling and game and originally conceived by Manitobans.

But there is something deeper and less obvious, arguably more revealing the contribution of a larger Canadian to the world-wide sporting narrative.

Mark Tewksbury – Olympic gold medallist who has long fought for inclusion at the Olympic level and is now the Canadian Olympic Committee board member said that Canadians brought a principled approach to sport. Their sport system was not perfect, but they took very seriously clean, fair and ethical sport. Richard McLaren, Beckie Scott, and Dick Pound — the leading voices in the world on these issues – are all Canadian.

When encountering a group of Canadian Paralympic hopefuls it became an undercurrent at a recent summit in Calgary. When speaking about Canada the terms of reference for each of these athletes had more to do with fully appreciating an approach than with competition winning championships.

Canada has introduced a series of sports that have become wildly popular to the world. It has developed champions from figure skating to track and field in a wide variety of Olympic disciplines.

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