On October 20, 2011 Ontario's Premier Dalton McGuinty unveiled his new cabinet and no Minister responsible for sport was named. The Ministry of Health Promotion and Sport has disappeared, vanished into thin air and has returned to a title of just Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. (I guess it's more important to be symptomatic when it comes to health, instead of preventive.) In fact, there is no one responsible for sports.
Sport is essentially an orphan in Queens Park. When I questioned McGuinty via twitter, I received a text from @LibPressSec stating Deb Matthews is responsible for Health Promotion and Sousa Charles for the Toronto Pan Am 2015, who is actually Ontario's Minister of Citizenship & Immigration. Seems to me Sport is treated as an orphan, clearly split and shared amongst whomever. Why isn't there a Ministry for sport?
There are two main problems with this. First, Toronto will be hosting the 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games, the largest multi-sports Games held in
As an Olympian, Commonwealth Games Gold Medalist and a member of Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games, Athlete Advisory Council I am quite shocked and disappointed!
You might not be an Olympian or a weekend warrior for that matter, but if you think sports doesn't matter, think again. The number one cause of death in Canada is lifestyle related (i.e. cancer & heart disease)... Not age related! Considered another way, people are expiring well BEFORE they are intended to and it is preventative! Moreover, we have an epidemic problem of obesity among Canadian children. Our health care is being stretched thin by these demands. Come on Ontario, we have to do better. It's time we as Canadians get proactive instead of symptomatic with our approach to healthcare and the promotion of sports is the way.
It's no surprise that the Ontario Medical Association's campaign includes making physical education mandatory throughout high school. Children who are physically active throughout high school are more likely to sustain a life of physical activity, while those who drop out of sports in high school are likely to have a sedentary and unhealthy lifestyle.
Likewise, what if I was to tell you that being involved in sports, taught youth transferable skills to academics and that they were more likely to achieve a higher level of education? Wouldn't it be a worthwhile endeavor to invest in?
I and other athletes would like our own Ontario Minister of Sport, just like Francophone Affairs, Aboriginal Affairs, Women's Issues and Seniors. Doesn't sport matter in Ontario anymore?
Still not convinced? Here is a glimpse at just a few of the benefits that sports offers (beyond the podium).
- Contribute significantly to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
- Prevents healthcare expenditure
- Leads to fewer sick days, reduced turn-over and to increased productivity at work
- Leads to fewer sick days and to increased productivity at school
- A key component to preventing many illnesses and treating diseases
- Improves one's psychological/mental wellness (i.e. depression)
- Improves the quality of one's life
- Youth are less likely to engage in risky behavior
- Youth are less likely to join a gang
- Youth are less likely to experience teenage pregnancy
- More likely to be involved in physical activity and adopt a healthy lifestyle for one's entire life if involved in sports during high school
- More likely to adopt a healthy eating habits
- Linked to positive educational trajectories
- Makes school a more enjoyable experience
- More likely to achieve higher grades
- More likely to achieve a higher level of education
- Teaches transferable skills to academic learning
- Builds character (i.e. perseverance, willingness to take risk, discipline... etc)
- Improves memory, observation, problems-solving, decision making, attitude, behaviour, and creativity
- Teaches the value of applying effort
- Teaches effective goal-setting
- Promotes will power
- Improves self-confidence
- Teaches students how to handle failures
- Teaches students resiliency
- Teaches the pursuit of excellence both on and off the field
- Teaches team work
- Teaches how to multitask
- Teaches how to effectively manage one's time
- Teaches discipline
- Teaches how to support others
- Forges friendship
- More likely to engage in citizenship and social responsibility (giving back to the community)
- Stops wars - (THAT'S PRETTY IMPRESSIVE. What else does that?)
- Supports cultural development of a country
- Exposes young athletes to cultures and varying world attitudes
- Appreciates diversity
- Does not discriminate
Believing in the power of Sports,
Nicole Forrester, PhD Candidate