Sport, Leadership and Social Change

A rowing team holds their boat over their heads while standing on a dock as the sun sets.

Join us for this interactive webinar series as we critically examine how leadership, communication, and sport intersect to influence our culture and impact social change. Sport has been a platform for addressing crises of power, gender, and race, not to mention a global pandemic, and has brought into focus a need for change. Political, cultural, humanitarian, and health pressures have challenged the sports community to rethink the role and power of sport within society.

Each episode in this webinar series will aim to shed light on the ways sport can lead, and the ways we can lead through sport today, tomorrow, and beyond.

This webinar series is brought to you by the School of Communication and Culture.

EPISODE 26 - The Complicated Role of Pain in Sport

Pushing through pain is often conflated with commitment. But is it pain that we are pushing through when we strive to exceed our limits of strength, skill, and endurance, or something else? In this session, we will discuss the relationship between pain and sport.

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EPISODE 25 - The Role of Media in Fostering Social Change Within Canadian Sport

In this session, we will discuss some of the challenges our journalists, reporters, broadcasters and producers typically face and the opportunities for positive social change that exist both within the newsroom and beyond.

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Conversation with Rohit Joseph

EPISODE 24 - Showcasing Provincial & Territorial Safe Sport Programming

In this round table showcase, we discuss how Canadian Provincial and Territorial Sport Organizations (PTSOs) are working to ensure safe sport across their regions. Our panelists from the Sports and Recreation Branch Yukon, Sport Manitoba, Sport BC/ViaSport, Sport Nova Scotia, and Sports Québec will share the unique approaches they're taking to foster safe sport cultures, environments, and leaders in order to offer excellent sport experiences for all sport participants in their regions.

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EPISODE 23 - Young Leaders Championing Values-based Sport

As advocates from across Canadian sport use their platforms to call for positive change in every sport domain (community, provincial, university, national and professional), it is crucial that the root causes of harm and corruption in sport are exposed. Equally important is a positive vision for sport – something to fight for, not just fight against. In this session, we hear from young sport leaders about how they are driving positive change.

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EPISODE 22 - Excellence in Community Sport

What can community-based sport programming and initiatives teach us about ‘excellence in sport’ and ‘excellent sport experiences’? What is being done in the community sport realms to support prevention of abuse and corruption in sport? Join the conversation as we explore these questions and more.

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Sporting events, games, and tournaments are credited with having a positive impact on society - rekindling social values, engaging communities, inspiring people to exercise, or leaving a lasting legacy of excellence. Intentional leadership and intervention, however, are required for social impact. In this session, our host, Dr. Jennifer Walinga is joined by Dr. Laura Misener and Dr. David Legg, to explore the role of para-sport in shaping, leading, and educating the sport system.

BONUS - The Social Impact of Sport

EPISODE 21 - Trauma-Informed Safe Sport Practice: Caring for Survivors

Recommendations for Safe Sport practitioners and researchers include increased support, guidance, and care for the victims and survivors of abuse as well as increased involvement in the work to prevent abuse and refine the process of reporting. In this session, our panelists explore ways to build safe, abuse-free sport environments, how to identify and prevent abuse in sport, and better include, support, and guide victims of abuse in sport.

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EPISODE 20 - Winning Better: The New Gold Standards of Sport Leadership

The sport community is learning that when the only measure of success is a medal, winning will soon begin to trump health, safety, and respect. With the advent of Safe Sport, sport leaders are seeking new, more expansive metrics for sport success. This is not to say that safe, healthy, respectful sport will now trump high-performance. Rather it is time for a more complex set of metrics for valuing, investing in, and supporting sport that is excellent in all regards. We need to learn how to win better, not at all costs.

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EPISODE 19 - Sport Governance in Canada: Challenges and Opportunities

In this session, we discuss Sport Governance with Rose Mercier, certified board consultant with The Governance Coach. Rose is a Governance Systems Professional® and coach to boards implementing policy governance including non-profit organizations, public agencies and national sport governing bodies. A former National Sport Organization CEO herself, Rose brings direct insight into the Canadian sport environment as well as over 25 years experience in management, program development, and leadership training in non-profit organizations.

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EPISODE 18 - Building Quality Sport in Canada

In this session, we look at the work being done to support quality sport experiences for all participants across the Canadian sport system. We will focus on High Performance Sport as there is a great deal of antagonism about what we DON’T want in HP sport right now. It is important to respond to the calls for change by envisioning and designing what we DO want.

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EPISODE 17 - Healing Survivors, Healing Sport

In what ways does sport itself need to heal from past and current harms? And how can we better support survivors of maltreatment in sport? In this session, we explore the concept of healing: healing the survivors, healing sport. We will examine such questions as, who needs healing support in sport?

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EPISODE 16 - Reconstructing Sport in Canada

Sport in Canada is facing a major reckoning with youth participation declining, thousands of national team athletes citing maltreatment, and sport governance confronting heavy public and media scrutiny. What will it take to reconstruct a sport system that fosters a positive, healthy, excellent experience for everyone involved in sport? In this session, our experts in cultural reform, sport leadership, and human and social development deconstruct the current sport landscape and then map out a blueprint for sport in Canada. 

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EPISODE 15 - Leadership in and Through Sport

In this episode, we hear from Tadhg Leader, a pro rugby player (#10 fly half and kicker), who has played professionally in both Ireland (Connacht Academy, u19, u20), and the United States (Major League Rugby with St. Louis and San Diego) as well as a brief stint with Italy’s Rugby Badia ASD. Tadhg has recently made the transition to American Football signing with the Hamilton Tiger Cats in the Canadian Football League as their kicker.

Tadhg, who often finding himself in leadership roles within his teams, shares his experiences and guiding principles as a sport leader and highlights the ways that connection and community underpin all aspects of leadership in sport. Tadhg was a recent CFL Player’s Assn sponsored participant in RRU’s Sport Leadership course.

Conversation with Tadhg Leader

Ali Mourtada, kicker for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and personal trainer shares his insights into the game and the unique bond between the triumvirate of kicker, snapper, and holder and highlights the importance of love for the sport, support from family, team, and community, and the power of belief in self and others.

Ali provides us a special insight into his world in the CFL speaking to us directly from the locker room the day after the CFL draft. Ali was a recent CFL Player’s Assn sponsored participant in RRU’s Sport Leadership course and discusses his journey to professional football from Sierre Leone to the soccer fields of small-town USA to the snowy fields of Winnipeg, Canada.

Conversation with Ali Mourtada

EPISODE 14 - The Tao of Sport

In this session, we welcome Duff Gibson, author, firefighter, and World and Olympic gold medalist. Gibson's first book, The Tao of Sport, draws on the three decades Gibson has spent in the "hotbed of Olympic sport" as both an athlete and coach, looking at the commonalities shared by elite athletes and how to draw them out.

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EPISODE 13 - Inclusivity, Equity, and Diversity in and Through Sport

In this session, we will be joined by  leaders in the area of equity and inclusivity in sport. We will reflect on the ethical responsibilities we have as sport leaders to make our environments more inclusive and equitable. As part of the Communication Ethics conference, we will be particularly focused on the messaging – through our words, actions, and artifacts – that we can adopt or change to enhance inclusivity and equity in sport. Our panelists will share the challenges and opportunities we face within the sport system as we strive to build more inclusive and equitable sporting environments in Canada and what it will take to achieve our goals.

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EPISODE 12 - Strengthening Mental Health in and Through Sport

At the last Olympic and Paralympic Games, we saw unprecedented examples of athletes advocating for athlete mental health and exemplifying the skillful management of their own mental health. In this session, we hear from experts and leaders, advocating for mental health awareness and supports across the sport system.

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EPISODE 11 - A Cultural Framework for Leading Safe and High-Performance Sport Environments

In this episode, we explore current challenges facing sport systems, the cultural and structural issues Covid revealed, and how to expand sport models to include athlete health and wellbeing in our understanding of performance and definition of success in sport.

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EPISODE 10 - Sport as Education

We explore what can be learned through sport and how we can best leverage sport as a vehicle for learning. In this session, our host, Dr. Jennifer Walinga, is joined by guest panelists Cheryl Bernard, Doug Tate and Gary Barber.

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EPISODE 9 - Olympism, Part 2: Paralympism and The Paralympics

In this second episode, we examine this year’s event after the conclusion of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

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EPISODE 8 – Olympism, Part 1: Telling Olympic Stories

Examine the Olympics from the lens of economics, media, education, and human rights.

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BONUS - Conversation with Adam Kreek

EPISODE 7 - Part 2: Fostering Diversity and Inclusion in and Through Sport

In this episode, we continue to explore how to support greater diversity and inclusion in and through sport with a focus on building belonging in sport.

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EPISODE 6 - Fostering Diversity and Inclusion in and Through Sport 

Sport can be both a vehicle for teaching the importance of diversity and inclusion and for battling against stigma, marginalization, and stereotyping. In this session, our host, Dr. Jennifer Walinga, is joined by guest panelists Gololcha Boru, Stephanie Dixon, John Lyall, Marnie McBean, Carolyn Trono and Dano Thorne.

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BONUS - Conversation with Dano Thorne

EPISODE 5 - Human Rights in and Through Sport

There are many examples within sport of human rights challenges including issues of gender and sexuality, performance enhancement, power and politics, accessibility, and social welfare; yet sport can also act as a powerful force for social change. In this session, our host, Dr. Jennifer Walinga is joined by guest panelists Dr. Angela Schneider and Dr. Frank Fowlie.

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BONUS - Conversation with Isabelle Cayer

EPISODE 4 - Gender Equity in and Through Sport

In this session, we explore the advancement of women’s rights through and within sport. We speak with sport leaders about some of the barriers to women’s representation in sport, the battle to change limiting mindsets, what it takes to tackle unconscious bias, and the challenges we see ahead. 

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BONUS - Conversation with Pamphinette Buisa

BONUS - Conversation with Allison Sandmeyer

EPISODE 3 - Sport for Human and Social Development: Whole Athletes, Whole Communities

Sport has the power to shape and inspire not just individuals but whole communities. In this episode, Dr. Jennifer Walinga will be joined by a panel of athletes, researchers, and sport enthusiasts including Dr. Adrienne Leslie-Toogood, Krista Van Slingerland, Matt Young, and Tom Hall.

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EPISODE 2 - Women, Leadership and Sport

Women are scoring victories for equity; however, the stats on representation and resource allocation for women in sport remain dismal. In this session, Dr. Jennifer Walinga discusses with Nancy Hogshead-Makar, a leader in gender equity  working to ensure that women have equal access, support, and respect in sport.

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BONUS - Conversation with Sheila Robertson

BONUS - Conversation with Kate Beirness

EPISODE 1 - Sport in Society: How Sport Influences Culture and Impacts Social Change

In this session, Dr. Jennifer Walinga, Cath Bishop, and Laryssa Biesenthal explore how sports intersect with social concerns and how political, cultural, humanitarian, and health pressures have challenged the sports community to rethink the role of sport within society, and have brought into focus a need for change in sport values and practice.

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