Thursday, January 29, 2009

Losing the Right to Play

Those of you who read my blog regularly know that I'm kinda into sports. If you've payed attention, you also know I hope for nothing but the best for the world, and so, support many good-doing initiatives.

One of my favourite charities, understandably, is Right to Play. Sound familiar? Zdeno Chara just raised $24,000 dollars for the organization by winning the Hardest Shot competition at the 2009 NHL All Star Game this past weekend in Montreal. Some of your other favourite athletes might have mentioned it in an interview at some point.

RTP combines education with fun by helping children learn through sport. Their aim, as per their website, is "creating a healthier and safer world for children through the power of sport and play." Now who wouldn't love that?

Apparently, the International Olympic Committee doesn't think that's good enough anymore. Since 2000, RTP has been allowed access into the Althlete's Village at Olympic Games to speak to the athletes and raise awareness for the cause - hoping to engage them into becoming Right to Play Ambassadors. These ambassadors help spread the word about RTP and its goals, via conferences, fundraising, and trips to Third World countries (that are occasionally covered by various media partners).

Since the IOC decided not to renew it's Memorandum of Understanding with Right to Play, the charity finds itself lacking a primary means of recruitment and fundraising. This is a huge blow, a gazillion steps back from all the progress it has accomplished in the past few years. Where in 2004 nearly no one was aware of its existence, RTP is now highly respected and recognized around the world as an organization of value, thanks to Olympic athletes like Clara Hughes, Chantal Petitclerc, Kyle Shewfelt, Adam Van Koeverden, Donovan Bailey, Beckie Scott, Hayley Wickenheiser, Catriona Le May Doan, so many more...

The list is endless - and that's just from the Canadian website. Whole sports teams and leagues, as well as corporations, have officially partnered with Right to Play.

The problem, according to this article published by the Lethbridge Herald, is that the IOC wants to focus on its own similar programs. It still supports Right to Play's activities though. Isn't that's sweet?

Apparently, the whole controversy boils down to, what else? Money! It's a sponsorship issue.

Gary Mason of the Globe and Mail writes that when the Vancouver Organizing Committee learned that RTP had managed to sign a major sponsorship deal with Mitsubishi Motor Sales - which, if you're keeping track, is a major competitor to Vancouver Olympics' major sponsor General Motors - VANOC and GM were "worried that Mitsubishi was going to use its sponsorship with Right to Play as a way of getting Olympic exposure."

A deal of sorts was struck between VANOC and Right to Play, whereas Mitsubishi's name wouldn't appear on promotional material distributed during the Games or on the RTP website during that two week period. But somehow, the IOC got involved and the final decision was a resounding "NO!"

There's no denying that this charity is legit and that it does accomplish good. In fact, its aims are truly allied with the IOC's, whose website says one of the goals of the Olympic movement is to "contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practised without discrimination of any kind."

Wouldn't that goal be easier accomplished by associating with an organization like Right to Play? I think so.

However, complaining and trying to raise awareness about how wrong this brusque denial really is will not help Right to Play promote its message worldwide. Instead, as regular citizens of the world, all we can do is join the movement and hope for the best.

Help make the world a better place through Right to Play, click here to donate one time or once a month, whatever your budget can handle.

And don't forget! A donation makes a great gift!

Friday, January 02, 2009

Welcome, 2009!

While I did want to write a blog post about my crazy weekend in Tremblant with a few friends, the time has come for a recap of 2008 post.

(For the record, the Tremblant story included setting off the house alarm, being stuck in the driveway because of freezing rain and slippery roads, having no food and sending two of our folk out to the grocery store in a taxi - then the taxis stopped running and they had to beg a good Samaritan for a lift most of the way home. Oh, and the spa jets spewing everywhere because it wasn't full - or warm - enough.)

< /2008>

2008 was a year full of endings and new beginnings. Some of my bittersweet endings include finishing school and temporarily losing my HNIC job. But endings are simply the door to new beginnings, and those were simply awesome.

There was working the playoffs for HNIC in Toronto and making a bunch of new friends in the process, then the week in Calgary for National ISTAR, which also included being part of a documentary on Stampede and caveing in Canmore. In August, I worked on the Beijing Olympics, which was a great experience work-wise and for my personal life. I earned a lot of confidence on and off the job thanks to this stint in Toronto. I made and strengthened friendships, some of which will last a lifetime. I also learned a lot about myself, and grew emotionally - though not always due to positive events.

August was also the impeding doom month, health-wise. On 06/08/08, I broke a tooth biting into soft pastry. On 08.08.08, aka, Opening Ceremonies, I had an acid attack and wound up in the hospital. I had additional dental issues throughout the year, but nothing too crazy - just expensive!

The Fall was odd for me because I didn't go back to school. Instead, I travelled to Kingston to visit Ryan, worked at HNIC for the beginning of the Habs Centennial season, went to Toronto for the Golden Jubilee Darbar, then back to Kingston for Ryan's graduation. I also went to NYC for Labour Day week(end), visiting my cousin at school.

I also made it to Ottawa earlier this week for the World Junior Hockey Championship, seeing Team USA vs. Kazakhstan at Scotiabank Place. It was the second time I made it to Ottawa in 2008 (or was that 3 times?), since I met up with a bunch of Habs fans in the Capital City for Habs @ Sens for Hockey Day in Canada.

This past year was also a good year for boys. And that's all I'll say on that topic ;)

So much happened in 2008, and as you can tell, I can't remember most of it - especially the early stuff.

But what I do know is this: 2008 was a year of change and growth, whether professionally or personally, emotionally or rationally.

Overall, there were a lot more positives in this past year than negatives, and I hope that 2009 will continue this upward trend... despite being faced with a series of depressing events in late 2008.

So, 2009, I welcome you with open arms. Maybe this will be the year I accomplish my destiny!