Why this matters
On this episode of the GSM podcast, four experts share their experiences from the last year.
The last year was certainly a challenging one. However, there is a lot left to learn from reactions to the pandemic and racial justice movements. Sport provides an important case study, platform, and lens for analyzing the impact of crises and potential solutions as the world strives to recover.
In today’s episode, Ilhaam Groenewald, Lori Okimura, Brent Cawhee, and Dr. Fitz Hill bring their unique perspectives to the table. They tackle a multitude of issues including the pause in sport, pressures and tragedy across local and global communities, and the uncertainty of the future. Groenewald pointedly asks the question we've all been thinking about, "What’s next?”
There is a consensus that the pandemic revealed not only structural issues, but how important community is and how sport has always been a way of bringing people together. Its absence has been difficult yet illuminative. Hill emphasizes, "Our communities, our cities, our nation need these activities [where] we draw together and come together. Sport has always been a transformational activity."
Sport certainly proved its transformational nature as athletes and fans united in supporting their communities and protesting against social injustice. Over the last year, the challenges of the pandemic have exacerbated systemic racism. Okimura stresses that in the face of this incredibly difficult moment, it is more important than ever to look out for one another. “We have to do better. We have to listen more. We have to act more,” she says. “When you see something, please say something.” Every word and every action matters whether they're on or off the court, in or out of what you consider to be your community. The rise of activism in sport in this last year has demonstrated have how impactful and necessary it is to use your voice and your platform for good.
There were so many hard lessons learned over the last year and they cannot be forgotten. Cahwee explains how the pandemic was devastating to Indigenous communities and resulted in the loss of many elders and leaders. He says that there needs to be a consideration for the loss of culture and knowledge, but also more people who are willing to step up in the moment and support their community. This won't be the only challenge we face, as he states, "We have to be prepared for the next pandemic. We need to be prepared for the next pandemic."
This year showed us all that what may be seemingly impossible is very possible. We cannot predict the future, but we can use the lessons of this year in preparation for what happens next. As vaccines are rolled out globally, there is still a long way to go, but with the continuation of coalition, community-building, and compassion, there is plenty of reason to be optimistic.
For many, it’s been approximately a year in the life of a pandemic. We’ve seen tragedy, resilience, growing gaps of opportunity and opportunities for growth, juxtaposed in communities across the globe. The world of sport was not immune.
From a pause in play, to a push for more progressive racial justice, to unanswered questions about the long-lasting impacts of COVID-19 that still linger in the air - what do we wish we knew then, that we know now?