Winning Numbers: The Numerology of a Growth Strategy


January 3rd, 2022

Numerology has a special, fun place in sports. I’m not talking about numerology in the form of statistics, data and analytics, but more so the palpable connection people feel to certain numbers, including our leading athletes themselves. I’m talking about the sheer simplicity of numerology; where Canadian skiing icon Nancy Greene will always invoke 1968 and the 10th Olympic Winter Games in Grenoble, France.

Another example is the reverence Wayne Gretzky showed to his hockey idol Gordie Howe. When he joined the Sault Ste-Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League/Canadian Hockey League, Gretzky wanted to wear “9” in honour of Mr. Hockey. The problem is that teammate Brian Gualazzi already had it. The next best thing was “99” and it of course became the iconic trademark that will forever be associated with Gretzky.

Mario Lemieux anticipated how he’d be compared to Gretzky and chose “66” as a modest reference to The Great One. The number “19” became associated with top centres in the game of hockey and was the chosen number of famous centres such as Joe Sakic and Steve Yzerman to Jonathan Toews and joe Thornton.

Sidney Crosby made “87” a double signpost for his birthdate, August 7, 1987; the eighth month, seventh day of ’87. Connor McDavid followed suit this generation with number 97 to represent his birth year.

Some very famous numbers are meant to be eclipsed just as the records they represent are made to be broken. Think Babe Ruth (714), Hank Aaron (755) and – at some point in the future – acceptance of Barry Bonds (762). Meanwhile, the number “42” has been immortalized by Jackie Robinson and is now officially retired throughout baseball.

In basketball, 23 is Michael Jordan. Yet LeBron James is 23 and 6 and Kobe Bryant was 8 and 24. It is a sport that through all of its evolution still holds on to numbering the five positions, from #1 (point guard) and #2 (shooting guard) to #3 (small forward) and #4 (power forward) and finally #5 (centre). The NFL has its share of famous jersey numbers but arguably there is no numerology more important in professional football than the roman numerals that roll out each Super Bowl, from “I” in 1967 to “LVI” next month.

And finally, the notion of a perfect 10 is alive and well in global soccer, where many of the greatest players of all time are synonymous with #10 (including today’s great Lionel Messi and previous era superstars such as Pele, Maradona and Zidane).  In Canada, our own perfect 10 is a number 12, Olympic champion Christine Sinclair, the world’s all-time leading goal scorer in women’s soccer.

With that context, there’s no better way to usher in the New Year than with an irreverent ode to some of the winning numbers that will help define our growth strategy at the BC Sports Hall of Fame:

  • 1966: As in the year in which the BC Sports Hall of Fame was founded by its first curator and executive director Eric Whitehead, the former and late sports editor and columnist with The Province newspaper. It is also a key to our future growth as the number in Club 1966; the new, revamped and expanded membership platform that will be launched in 2022. Club 1966 is not only a tribute to Whitehead and all those who created the BC Sports Hall of Fame but to all of those who have supported it over the years. Club 1966 will represent the very core of the BC Sports Hall of Fame family;


  • 777: As in the official address of BC Place, home of the BC Sports Hall of Fame since 1993 and situated at Gate A at 777 Pacific Boulevard. The special relationship we have with the team at BC Place and its provincial umbrella BC Pavilion Corp is not only an essential element of our current sustainability, it will certainly be a tremendous asset in realizing our vision for the future. We thank PavCo CEO Ken Cretney for his leadership and support of the BC Sports Hall of Fame and will forever be indebted to him and the team at BC Place for the special consideration they’ve shown during the COVID-19 pandemic;


  • 19: That brings us to COVID-19, arguably the greatest challenge the BC Sports Hall of Fame has ever faced in its soon-to-be 56 years of operation as a not-for-profit society designed to promote sports history, heritage and culture…to honour the past and inspire the future. That number invokes the strong sense of purpose that we’ll need to bring to everything we do in the coming weeks, months and years to ensure a full and robust recovery post-COVID. Of course, we cannot grow without first stabilizing the downward pressures caused by the public health orders and restrictions levied during the pandemic, including going down to 2 days of operations for most of the period since March 11th, 2020. After almost two years of little to no traffic in the form of admissions, special events and tours at the Sports Hall, we have had to work hard to govern and manage to survive and then revive before ultimately thriving. To that end, we again thank BC Place, the Government of British Columbia and our BC Sports Hall of Fame Foundation for being there to help us navigate through the constraints of COVID-19;


  • 1999: Greg Moore of Maple Ridge was taken from us at the tragically young age of 24, as he was just hitting his stride in Indy Car auto racing and his prime in a career that had upside written all over it. Born in New Westminster on April 22nd, 1975, he died in a crash at the Marlboro 500 in Fontana, California on October 31st, 1999. Greg’s Champ Car career saw him compete in 72 races over four years, reaching the podium 17 times and winning five times. His career is well-chronicled in the upgraded Greg Moore Gallery, made possible through the support of Ric and Donna Moore and the Greg Moore Foundation. His Player’s-sponsored car is indeed one of the highlights of the BC Sports Hall of Fame and a popular “steering opportunity” for kids who visit the Sports Hall. The Gallery is also a benchmark for the further upgrades and improvements we aim to make to other galleries, exhibits and displays at the BC Sports Hall of Fame. We see it as a prototype for the interactive and immersive development we foresee for the Sports Hall in the coming years;


  • 1980: The year of the Marathon of Hope is forever immortalized in the name of Terry Fox. As an honoured member of the BC Sports Hall of Fame and as the namesake of the gallery that tells his remarkable story, the icon from Port Coquitlam, B.C. has had a strong presence at the BC Sports Hall for more than 40 years. Yet, we are committed to doing more — everything we can to elevate and enhance that presence in the years to come. A highlight of 2021 was the launch of the first learning module of our Hero-in-You educational curriculum. There was no better way to start the series than with the story of Terry Fox and his Metis ancestry and we’re proud of what the educational resource will do, not only in indigenous communities throughout British Columbia, but everywhere in the province. We see tremendous growth opportunities in our commitments to learning, education and community outreach and the Terry Fox modules (three of them) will set the tone and tenor for our aspirations in this area;


  • 1985: As in March 21st, 1985, the start of the incredible Man in Motion Tour that saw Rick Hansen – a close friend of Terry Fox — circle the globe in his wheelchair. Not only did Hansen’s Man in Motion raise significant funds for spinal cord research – then and to this day — it also went a long way towards reshaping attitudes towards physical disability and made Canada a leader in everything from wheelchair sports to accessibility. It remains a pillar in our current footprint and is among the priorities for us when it comes to our visioning for the future of the BC Sports Hall of Fame. Like many of the stories that are showcased at the Sports Hall, the Man in Motion Tour transcends sports. It is that aspect of the Rick Hansen story that we aim to keep alive and expand upon in the years to come as one of our most important and meaningful galleries;


  • 7: As in the number of years it took George Challenger to build the world’s largest relief map in his basement. The Challenger Map of British Columbia – at least that portion representing the Lower Mainland, Sea-to-Sky and Vancouver Island – will reside at the BC Sports Hall of Fame for the first six months of 2022. Famous since its days at the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver, we are keenly aware of the popularity of the Challenger Map and will do everything we can to expose as many people – British Columbians, Canadians and visitors from other countries — to its depiction of the mountains and valleys that are brought together by the rivers, lakes and ocean shorelines of B.C. We’re excited to juxtapose the geographic history of sports in B.C. – including our hosting of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, the 1994 Victoria Commonwealth Games and 1954 British Empire Games;


  • 2030: As in Vancouver 2030, the exploratory process being undertaken by the Lilwat, Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Watuth First Nations. A greenlight from the Canadian Olympic Committee would mean a bid built on the first indigenous-led Games in Olympic and Paralympic history. It would also mean another tremendous opportunity for the BC Sports Hall of Fame to serve as the go-to story-tellers of BC sports history, heritage and culture – not to mention the impact of another Olympic Games on the very infrastructure, economy and fabric of our province as a national and international sports hub and playground;


  • 43: As in the number of local, regional and sport-specific sports halls, galleries, exhibits and displays currently operating in British Columbia. Through the BC Council of Sports Halls – to be renamed as the BC Sports Hall Network in the coming weeks – we aim to do our part to create the strongest platform possible for communications, information-sharing and collaboration among all those like-minded people who value the power of sports history in their respective communities. Thanks in advance to Council of Halls co-chairs Scott Ackles and Jim Hughson and our steering committee that also incudes Ailson Noble and Dale Harris for both the consolidation of existing Halls and creation of new Halls that we envision in the next few years. Our first milestone is to get to 50 sports halls in B.C. and then 60. Who knows what the threshold is for new sport-specific halls, municipal halls, regional halls, halls of fame at the universities, colleges and even high schools that play an important role in our overall sport system, but suffice to say that we’ll strive to make B.C. a national leader in the promotion of sport history from the ground floor up and then ultimately feeding into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in a way that reflects what B.C. has become to our athlete and sprot development pathways in Canada. We will grow from 43 to 50 and 60 and beyond thanks largely to the ongoing support of the BC Sports Hall of Fame Foundation, who are providing supplemental funding tied into matching efforts so that communities and local leaders looking to grow their sports halls or establish new halls have the resources and support they need to be successful – thanks again to Bill Maclagan and the entire Board of Directors of the BC Sports Hall of Fame Foundation;


  • 100,000: As in the 100,000 archival documents and 27,000 artifacts that represent more than 150-years of sports and sporting accomplishments in British Columbia (and before). Each year – at least in non-pandemic times — an audience of over 35,000 visitors from around the world are enthralled within the walls of the BC Sports Hall of Fame. The substantive artifacts and historic treasures of the athletes, coaches, teams, builders, pioneers and media that have defined BC sport history, heritage and culture will always be a draw to the bricks-and-mortar of our location at BC Place. Yet we are committed to digitalizing our entire collection so that people from throughout the province, across the country and around the world can be just a click away from the inspiration represented by the jerseys, equipment and accessories of our greatest sports heroes and heroines. That’s why the announcement last month by Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture & Sports Melanie Mark was such a game-changer for all of us who care about the BC Sports Hall of Fame. The contribution of $198,000 from the Government of British Columbia to help digitalize the award-winning Indigenous Sports Gallery at the BC Sports Hall represents the expansive vision we have for the ways in which we can honour the past and inspire the future, including through digitalization in particular and immersive and interactive technology in general.


These are all just numbers. Yet they’re also signposts for the growth and development we envision for the BC Sports Hall of Fame in the weeks, months and years to come. By ushering in 2022 with a can-do attitude that aims to be as strong as the 416 honoured members and 64 teams that have been inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame over the years, we’re convinced we can realize these and the other leading priorities that we have identified in our Inspiration 2020 and 2024 strategic plans. We of course realize that none of our aspirations will materialize without your support – and the active engagement of our Honoured Members, Trustees, former chairs and other partners and supporters of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.


Fuelled by inspired thinking and elevated goal-setting, here’s to a happy, healthy and rewarding New Year and the kind of resilience, determination and passion that can make 2022 a positive clearing for our pathway towards being the best BC Sports Hall of Fame that we can be.


Tom Mayenknecht, Chair
BC Sports Hall of Fame

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 founder and host of The Sport Market sport business radio show, 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 Chair of the Paul Carson Sports Broadcast & Media Awards.