New True Sport Report sheds light on the potential power of sport in a changing worldFebruary 2, 2022
On February 1, the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) published “Power of Sport: The True Sport Report.” The new publication builds on “What Sport Can Do: The True Sport Report” (2008) that provided conclusive evidence of how good sport can be used intentionally to positively influence a wide range of societal goals. Those goals included: child and youth development, crime prevention, education, social inclusion, and economic and environmental sustainability. SIRC sat down with Karri Dawson (KD), the Senior Director of Quality Sport at the CCES, to learn more about the contemporary content in the Power of Sport. They also covered who should read the report and how it can be used to support decisions for enhancing sport.
SIRC: Tell us about the new True Sport Report. Why was it produced?
KD: We produced this report with the help of the E-Alliance and with funding from Sport Canada. We wanted to share evidence-based information that shows the significant impact that sport can have on people and communities, beyond the obvious health and wellness benefits. As a network leader for values-based sport, the CCES undertook this initiative to provide concrete evidence of the benefits that can be realized through a values-based approach to sport. The 2022 report titled “Power of Sport: The True Sport Report” is a follow-up to our 2008 report called “What Sport Can Do.” Like the original report, the 2022 report covers topics such as child and youth development, crime prevention, education, social inclusion, and economic and environmental sustainability. And we added information on the impacts of sport on children with disabilities, LGBTQ+ inclusion, the experiences of racialized and Indigenous people, and the impact of climate change on sport.
SIRC: Who should read this report?
KD: I think there’s something in the report for everyone. The information is relevant to a wide variety of sectors, including all levels of government, people who work in education, people who work in community organizations, and business leaders. It’s really designed for people who want to use sport to do social good, but for whom sport isn’t their core offering. The report presents research that addresses how community sport contributes to a spectrum of societal goals, including quality education, gender equality, health and well-being, reduced inequalities, and climate action. In addition, sport does a great job of connecting young people with positive adult role models and mentors. In turn they provide the young people with opportunities for positive development and support their acquisition of critical life skills.
SIRC: So, anyone involved in the sport sector, from top to bottom, this is for them?
KD: Yes, absolutely. Those of us who work in sport know the power and value of sport, but this report serves as a reminder that not just any sport will do. It’s got to be good sport, driven by positive values. It reinforces how important sport is to Canadians and the multitude of reasons to keep people involved. The report is also very important for people who are outside of sport, but who may want to use sport as a tool for social development or to achieve some level of social good.
SIRC: What were some of the key takeaways from the new report?
KD: One of the pieces that I think we all intuitively know is that adults who are involved in sport experiences have a significant impact on the children and youth who participate. These adults include coaches, parents and guardians, officials, and administrators. And each one of them is key to ensuring sport instills character and delivers positive benefits to kids. The new report identifies that “how” sport is delivered is key to achieving those benefits and that we need to be intentional in bringing values to the forefront so that kids can derive the benefits from their participation in sport.
The report also revealed that we’re missing research in some important areas and that we need to prioritize research in certain areas moving forward. For example, we need to advance our understanding of the experiences of Canadians with intersectional identities so that we can address the barriers to inclusion in community sport. If we don’t ensure all Canadians have the opportunity to participate in sport, then they’ll never be able to realize the benefits that we know sport has to offer.
SIRC: Are there any findings in the report that might be considered worrisome for sport in Canada?
KD: It’s troubling to see that there are still so many Canadians who are excluded from community sport. And for the people who are participating in sport, there are few guarantees that their experience in sport will be positive and values based. People who are engaged in values-based sport are more likely to stay in sport, but the findings of the report show that retention rates are low in some demographic groups. For example, there’s research in the report that indicates 1 in 3 girls drop out of sport during adolescence, compared to 1 in 10 boys. This finding shows that there’s a need for us to improve the enjoyment and well-being of girls in sport so they can stay in sport longer and continue to realize the benefits of sport participation.
SIRC: On the flip side, is there anything in the report that Canadians can feel good and confident about moving forward?
KD: The COVID-19 pandemic really awoke Canadians to the importance of sport as a fundamental part of our social fabric and the impact that sport can have on the health and well-being of Canadians. It also exposed the underlying social inequities in sport and in our communities. As a result, there’s been a growing awareness of the need for a values-based approach to sport that keeps athletes safe, promotes participant well-being, and ensures that issues such as maltreatment have no place in our sport system.
I think we can feel really good about the fact that a lot of programs are making changes and planning to come back better than before the pandemic. People are looking to have a sport culture that is fair, safe, inclusive and accessible to everyone. In a way, the pandemic has created a great opportunity for Canadians to embrace sport in our communities, and to make sure that sport really does deliver on all the positive outcomes we know it can.
SIRC: What actions or next steps do you hope will come as a result of this report?
KD: I really hope everyone, from decision makers to policy makers to business leaders, recognize the tremendous potential of community sport. And I hope they’re inspired to use the evidence in this report to make good decisions and do their work in a different way, whether it’s making funding decisions or implementing a new program, the hope is this evidence will be informative. In addition, I hope the report will help grow the understanding of our need for values-based sport, and the importance it plays in the health and well-being of Canadians.
SIRC: Thank you, Karri. Do you have any final thoughts that you’d like to leave with our audience?
KD: At the end of the day, it’s about making sure that the sport sector thrives and is united in offering positive sport experiences for all Canadians. For sport to do good, it must be good. For people to realize the benefits, they have to have an opportunity to play. I think that’s what it’s all about. The question we’re trying to answer now is: How can we use this evidence to support the decisions we make to ensure that sport is living up to its full potential in Canada?
About True Sport
True Sport is an initiative of the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES), which is designed to give people, communities and organizations the means to leverage the benefits of good sport, from a platform of shared values and principles. As a values-based sport network leader, the CCES believes that activating the True Sport Principles, on and off the field of play, will contribute to a positive shift in Canadian sport culture. Learn more at www.truesport.ca.
About the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES)
The CCES is an independent, national, not-for-profit organization committed to making sport better. The CCES does so by working collaboratively to activate a values-based sport system, protecting the integrity of sport from the negative forces of doping and other unethical threats, and advocating for sport that’s fair, safe and open to everyone.
About the Sport Information Resource Centre (SIRC)
SIRC is Canada’s leader and most trusted partner in advancing sport through knowledge and evidence. SIRC is committed to engaging with organizations and individuals involved in the development of sport, recreation and physical education in Canada and around the world, to enhance the capacity of our shared community to foster growth and the pursuit of excellence. SIRC is funded in part by the Government of Canada.
About the contributor(s)
Karri Dawson is the Senior Director of Quality Sport at the CCES and the Executive Director of the True Sport Foundation. Karri engages leaders within sport organizations that share common values and beliefs about what good sport can do and works with numerous partners and funders to develop initiatives that contribute to advancing values-based sport in Canada.
The information presented in SIRC blogs and SIRCuit articles is accurate and reliable as of the date of publication. Developments that occur after the date of publication may impact the current accuracy of the information presented in a previously published blog or article.