The Sport Information Resource Centre
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The Sport Information Resource Centre

In 2021, the Government of Canada announced it would invest $80 million to support increased participation in organized community sport, particularly among underrepresented groups including Black, Indigenous, 2SLGBTQQIA+ and new Canadians. Careful planning is required to enhance these groups’ participation opportunities in community sport. Sport leaders can use strategic planning as an important tool for when sport clubs seek to attract new members.

Research shows that sexual minority youth are less likely to participate in organized sports than their heterosexual peers. Encouraging all sport participants to display the rainbow pride sign, for example, by using pride tape on their hockey sticks or baseball bats, can help LGBTQI2S youth feel included and welcomed in sport environments. 

Many transgender youth report feeling unsafe in sport environments. To create safe, welcoming and inclusive spaces for transgender youth in sport, best practices include using inclusive language and ensuring that coaches, volunteers and staff have opportunities to learn about trans issues. Learn more in the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport’s Creating Inclusive Environments for Trans Participants in Canadian Sport resource.

Safe Sport is about optimizing the sport experience for everyone involved in sport. The focus is often on athletes, but parents can also have negative experiences in their children’s sport environments. Inclusive language, behaviours and program design can help youth sport organizations to create positive, inclusive spaces for LGBTQI2S parents and participants.

After 2020 surprised us all with a global pandemic, many of us looked to 2021 with hope for a gradual return to our pre-pandemic “normal.” And with the widespread rollout and uptake of COVID-19 vaccines across the country, the activities that we put on hold as the pandemic unfolded, from social gatherings to travel, began to make a comeback.

Look no further than the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which brought together nearly 15,000 athletes in the summer of 2021, for an example of how the sporting world has learned to adapt and thrive in the age of COVID-19. The Government of Canada also committed $170 million in funding to support the recovery of the sport sector in its 2021 Budget, further reinforcing sport’s crucial role in our country’s broader social and economic recovery.

 And while we continue to face challenges, from new COVID-19 variants to climate disasters, SIRC continues to provide credible, responsive and relevant content to meet the needs of the Canadian sport sector. For a closer look at how SIRC embraced the “new normal” in 2021, cruise through our top content in SIRC’s 2021 year in review.

January

Mature woman wearing swim goggles at swimming pool. Fit active senior woman enjoying retirement standing in swimming pool and looking at camera. Happy senior healthy old woman enjoying active lifestyle.The 2021 Winter SIRCuit put a spotlight on Masters Athletes, an important call to action for creating better sport experiences for adults that are “beyond the typical age of peak performance.” Masters Athletes (Mas) can often be an after-thought in sport organizations, but this article speaks to the tremendous opportunity and value in reversing that trend.

February

SIRC produced an important blog in collaboration with the BIPOC Varsity Association at the University of Toronto: Tackling racism on campus. It includes an innovative approach to combatting racism within universities and colleges.

February also featured SIRC’s 2021 Concussion in Sport Symposium. The symposium focused on key research topics emerging in the concussion field, such as sex- and gender-related differences in concussions. It also featured key leaders in sport, such as Canadian Men’s National Team Head Coach, John Herdman.

March

SIRC launched Mom’s Got Game, an awareness campaign supporting and celebrating moms’ participation in sport and physical activity. In collaboration with Bell Media and other partners, we brought attention to the latest research and evidence. We also called on moms to share their stories of success and challenges, and the results were inspiring.

April

SIRC’s webinars continued into April, with a new mini-series focused on program evaluation skills. The accompanying resource helps sport organizations with all aspects of evaluation, from start to finish: Toolkit: Mastering the Art of Evaluation.

The spring 2021 SIRCuit was published, including an important article focused on addressing climate change in the Canadian sport sector.

May

LGBTQ2S+ Pride Flag with shadows of people in the backgroundOn International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT)—a worldwide celebration of sexual and gender diversities marked annually on May 17th—SIRC published an educational piece in collaboration with Egale Canada.

June

In June, SIRC published a unique blog diving into a new model of co-participation for women and girls in sport called “Swim Together.” The program was developed in collaboration between University of Waterloo researchers, the Township of Woolwich, Ontario, and the Woolwich Wave Swim Team.

July

The Tokyo Olympics was one of Team Canada’s most successful Summer Games ever. Our country’s 24 medals were good for 11th overall and was the second-highest total in Canada’s history at the Summer Olympics.

SIRC published a Special Edition SIRCuit in the lead-up to the Tokyo Games, including four articles that showcase Canadian leadership at the highest level of sport with regards to safe sport and concussion. The spirit of Canadian athletes shines through this article, Can you hear me now? The emergence of the athlete voice in Canadian Sport.

August

Canada’s Paralympic Team put in a strong effort at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games, earning 21 total medals and five golds, and again the leadership of Canada’s Paralympians shone through.

From the para-sport community, Stephanie Dixon, Chef de Mission for Canada’s 2020 Paralympic Team is featured in this SIRC article: Performing in a Pandemic: The Resilience and Leadership of Canadian Athletes.

September

Para athlete passing a ball during a wheelchair basketball gameCanada’s inaugural Concussion Awareness Week took place September 26 – October, 2021. To help the week gain momentum across Canada, SIRC published a concussion themed SIRCuit that same week. These were five articles diving into the latest advances of concussion safety in Canadian sport. The article that’s resonated the most has been Concussion in Para athletes: One size doesn’t fit all, featuring Dr. Jamie Kissick who speaks to the gaps in para-sport concussion research as well as the work that’s being done to address it.

October

The 15th annual Sport Canada Research Initiative (SCRI) Conference brought together more than 1,000 stakeholders in Canadian sport virtually to hear from Canada’s leaders and researchers on the latest research and innovations in Canadian sport.

All the key sessions are available on SIRC’s YouTube page, including a panel titled Truth and recognition: what this means for sport leaders.

November

To help support and advance gender equity in Canadian sport, SIRC partnered with Canadian Women & Sport to create a series of webinars titled Engaging Girls and Women in Sport Mini Series. Part 3 of the series – Engaging Black Community Coaches – takes place in Feb. 2022!

December

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, mothers continue to be put under pressure. Following the Mom’s Got Game campaign in the spring, SIRC published another new article focused on supporting moms in December, titled “Playing for team motherhood”: Returning to team sport after childbirth. Stay tuned for more content to support moms in the spring of 2022!

Thank you to everyone who collaborated, partnered, and contributed to SIRC in 2021! And a special shout-out to SIRC’s readers, viewers, and participants. Your participation and support are crucial to SIRC’s network and the knowledge-to-action process. We’re excited to welcome you back to SIRC’s channels in 2022!

Young adults who identify as LGBTQI2S are “game to play” sports, but frequently report experiences of discrimination and exclusion. Sport programs that are not based around biological sex or gender, but rather provide inclusive and affirming spaces that celebrate diversity, have strict zero-tolerance approaches to homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, and emphasize fun help to create positive sport experiences for LGBTQI2S participants.

Using gender-neutral language throughout policies, procedures, and communications is one way for sport organizations to be more inclusive of LGBTQI2S people and communities. Phrases like, “he or she” or “both genders,” can easily be updated to “they/them/their” and “all genders” to become more inclusive.

The Operationalizing Intersectionality (OI) Framework provides guidance for putting intersectional approaches into practice. Visualized as a wheel, the OI Framework identifies four points of traction: (1) Learning, (2) Harm Reduction, (3) Accountability & Transparency, and (4) Transformation. Learn about how you can apply these concepts to improve programs, policies, and spaces in the SIRC blog.

The effects of COVID-19 are significantly impacting the physical and mental health of the LGBTQI2S community. For sport organizations, participating in LGBTQI2S inclusive training opportunities, using gender-neutral language in policies and communications, and creating sanctions for anti-LGBTQI2S behaviour are just a few ways to be more inclusive of LGBTQI2S people and communities both now and when we return to sport.

Sport communities across Canada and the world have experienced a year like no other. Lockdown and isolation have left all of us eager to begin playing and training again. Now, more than ever, we understand how sport serves as a tool to bring communities together to support physical and mental health outcomes (Eime et al., 2013). Across 2SLGBTQI (Two Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, and Intersex) communities, there is an unfortunate history of being excluded from participating in sport, which has resulted in disproportionately negative health outcomes (Hargie et al., 2017). It has, however, provided potential ideas on how we can move sport forward together.

This International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT)—a worldwide celebration of sexual and gender diversities marked annually on May 17th—encourages us to recognize, take action on, and end the discrimination faced by 2SLGBTQI people and communities. The global theme for this year’s IDAHOBIT is “Together: Resisting, Supporting, Healing!”. For Egale, this means intentionally prioritizing community and the incredible benefits that are created and felt when we come together to resist hatred and bias, support one another, and heal our hearts and minds.

On days like IDAHOBIT, Egale challenges everyone to take action to be more inclusive of 2SLGBTQI people and communities both now and as we return to sport. Implementing the Universal Code of Conduct to Prevent and Address Maltreatment in Sport (UCCMS) acts as a crucial first step for sport organizations to create safer and more welcoming sport environments that are inclusive of 2SLGBTQI people and communities. The work continues below in the form of shareable and engaging ways to build inclusion in sport and in your community, on IDAHOBIT and every day.

IDAHOBIT: 5 Steps to 2SLGBTQI Inclusion in Sport

1. Educate yourself and others about the challenges faced by 2SLGBTQI people in sport, and in your community. Check out some of these resources to get started:

2. Consider language. Does your organization use gender-neutral language throughout its policies, procedures, and communications? Phrases like, “he or she” or “both genders,” can easily be updated to “they/them/their” and “all genders” to become more inclusive. It may seem like a small action, but it can make a world of difference. Here are some inclusive and affirming language tips to help you shift your language. This Pronoun Usage Guide can also help with being inclusive and respectful of gender diversity.

3. Practice 2SLGBTQI-allyship with your athletes, colleagues, and partners, as well as beyond the world of sport with friends and family. Have some fun with your next workout and complete the 2SLGBTQI Movement Routine, or challenge a friend! Not in the mood to sweat? You can also catch up on an episode of In Your Corner, an Egale virtual series hosted by Canadian Olympic Insider, Mark Tewskbury. In Your Corner explores inclusion in sport and the effects of COVID-19 on sport communities with Canadian Olympians and athletes, sports organizers, and special community guests.

4. Review the state of 2SLGBTQI sports inclusion in Canada and develop policy that protects the unique experiences of the 2SLGBTQI communities, ensuring safety, accessibility, and inclusion in sport programming from little leagues to the podium. Start today with these resources:

5. Consider donating your time, talent, and digital space to organizations that promote 2SLGBTQI inclusion in sport.

Each one of these steps can contribute toward the advancement of the Safe Sport Movement in Canada—a movement that must prioritize the safety of all 2SLGBTQI people and communities. Help us build kinder, more inclusive sport spaces and communities and together we can ensure sport environments treat everyone as equal, not other.