Appreciation. Celebration. Inspiration.

May 1st, 2020

Sometimes something needs to be taken away from you before you fully appreciate how important it is to you.

For me – and for many of you – it’s not being able to see the determination in my daughter’s eyes when she climbs up the stairs to the slide at our neighbourhood playground. It’s not seeing her stand on the tips of her toes or spread her arms in joy at ballet class. It’s not being able to take her to the local community centre or library.

Personally, it’s not being able to see my 92-year-old mom – at least not for a little while longer — or kick back with my friends within the space of two metres. Professionally, it’s not being able to collaborate in person with colleagues and associates to create solutions for our clients.

More selfishly, it’s not being able to work out at the gym or do the downward dog thing at yoga class. It’s not having the opportunity to sign off in darkness and escape for a couple of hours at the movie theatre. It’s even not having the chance to chill and gather my thoughts at any one of my favourite coffee shops.

It is also not having live sports. Sure, that includes not being able to cheer for my favourite teams and not being entertained by the best athletes and teams in the world. That is the relative darkness that we’ve felt since March 11th when the NBA and then the rest of the $75 billion a year industry that is professional sport suspended operations or, as the NHL would say, “paused”. Yet it’s also the suspended animation of organized sport and community living in British Columbia, which are part of the equally engrained youth sports industry that generates more than $17 billion per year of physical activity in North America.

It sure as heck makes me appreciate sport even more than I have at any other time in my life – and I have lived and breathed sport, ever since I was a little guy, playing and coaching on the West Island of Montreal.

I am in tune with how much of a distraction, escape and release professional sport and high performance sport is. And how much I miss that. I am reminded about how essential a part of the fabric of our communities that youth sports are, delivery agents as they are for fun, fitness and friendship.

So yes, I admit it: I will never take sports – professional or recreational, high performance or participation, winter or summer, indoor or outdoor – for granted ever again. And I know I’m not the only one. It’s part of the hope I have for the better days that lay ahead: That we will appreciate sport even more profoundly than we did before. That we will celebrate its return, helping to shape it, improve it and grow it with more focus, creativity and sense of purpose than ever. That we will continue to be inspired by our sports heroes; by the extraordinary athletes who give us wonder, stimulate our endorphins and inspire us to be – as the late Bobby Ackles said – the best that we can be.

That’s the approach we’re taking at the BC Sports Hall of Fame, whose doors have been closed since March 16th, 2020. In the words of our Chief Executive Nicholas Cartmell, it is a three-phase plan to survive, revive and, ultimately, thrive. We will survive by reducing our costs and infrastructure to the bare minimum this spring and summer – all the while reaching out to our audiences and connecting with our Honoured Members through initiatives such as the virtual tours on the social media channels of the BC Sports Hall of Fame. We will revive with high performance thinking and planning around our Annual Summit and our Induction Gala, our flagship fund-raiser for the Sports Hall.

And then, we will thrive going into 2021, more committed than ever to being the best BC Sports Hall of Fame that we can be. For our Honoured Members. For our sport system. For our community. For our sponsors, donors and other supporters. For you.

Tom Mayenknecht is the Chair of the BC Sports Hall of Fame. A principal at Emblematica Brand Builders in Vancouver and a nationally-recognized sport business commentator and host of The Sport Market on TSN Radio, he is a strong advocate for KidSport, Right To Play and other children’s charities. He is also a member of the Ringette Canada Hall of Fame as a builder and the Chair of the Paul Carson Broadcast & Media Awards.