Sports is the place to protest

Tuesday, October 10 2017

Imagine if hockey players started refusing to stand during Oh Canada, until First Nations rights are respected in Canada. 

Though it is harder to kneel on ice than it is on astroturf, such a question puts the NFL issue in the U.S. into perspective. 

Inequality exists above and below the Canada/U.S. border.

We can smugly sit here in the great white north - or we can get to work. We’re not going to find all the answers or right all the wrongs on day one.

But there are some glaring examples where Canadians can say, “we can do better.”

Quick example: the federal government spending $110,000 (so far) in court to fight having to pay a $6,000 on orthodontics for a First Nations teenager. No, that’s not the Trump government pulling that off. That’s our current Canadian government - the one which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says will do things differently. And the feds are appealing the latest decision (which went in favour of the teenager), so that $110K is going to go up.

Another example: we shouldn’t have any community in Canada which has a boil water advisory lasting more than a week - let alone decades. Another glaringly obvious way we haven’t started actually doing things differently.

But it’s not in people’s faces. It’s in the hard news section of the newspaper. It’s in the second or third part of the national news broadcast (if at all). Online it gets buried beneath piles and piles of clickbait and pictures of cats.

When people say to leave politics out of sport - they’re forgetting sport has a long history of getting the issues into the faces of the people who might otherwise look away.

International Rugby played a role in ending apartheid when South Africa was banned from tournaments.

The Olympics have, on numerous occasions, been a stage for political statements.

For our neighbours to the south, the NFL (and Major League Baseball), national pastimes and ever so important during the fall - that’s where statements are being made.

For Canadians, it would be hockey.

Perhaps we’ll see it. Perhaps won’t just be indigenous players taking a knee. And perhaps, if “Canada’s Game” is a stage for such statements, we’ll have more people starting to question if we’re doing things differently, or just the same as we always have.