NEW YEAR'S MESSAGE FROM GARRETT HOLMES
With the new year now upon us I'd like to update you on what the priorities of the Canadian Student-Athlete Association will be for 2021.
While there are many more important things in life than athletics. Many more urgent priorities in a COVID-19 world, athletics, and university/college athletics in particular is an important part of many people’s lives and futures as we move to a return to some semblance of “normalcy”, whatever that is in the new reality of COVID-19. An important part that has been changed forever as we have seen from 2020.
The world we live in is in a continual state of flux due to the pandemic, and that impacts priorities. Things have changed in the short time since I gave you my "year end message", dramatically. One needs only look at what is happening with Laurentian University and its financial issues for an issue that is going to directly impact student-athletes.
In 2020 my primary focus was to reach out to USports, the OUA, Canada West, AUS, RSEQ, the CCAA, universities and colleges in an effort to lay the foundation for developing relationships with those organizations.
In 2021 I will continue to reach out and build those relationships and reinforce the need for student-athletes to have an independent voice at the table in decisions impacting their futures.
However, it is now apparent that there are three clear priorities for 2021 which must be the focus of the Canadian Student-Athlete Association:
- The impact of delays in the vaccination rollout has risen to the top of the list of issues. Questions need to be asked now. The implications of delays need to be looked at now. Student-athletes need to have a voice on this, now, and need to make their voice heard now. The Canadian Student-Athlete Association is that voice.
- The impact of COVID-19 on 2021/22 athletics. Beyond the delay in vaccinations, there is the larger overall issue of the impact of COVID-19 on 2021/22 athletics. Questions need to be asked now. Ideas and options discussed now. Are there things that can be done, new models that can be looked at? Student-athletes need to have a voice on this now, and need to make their voice heard, now. The Canadian Student-Athlete Association is that voice.
- The impact of COVID-19 on future funding of athletics which has jumped to the forefront with the situation unfolding at Laurentian University. Laurentian is the "canary in the coal mine" relative to the magnitude of the impact that COVID-19 is going to have financially on university/college athletics in this country. What are the implications of COVID-19 on future funding of athletics? Is the model broken? Should Canadian universities/colleges be in the business of sports? Tough questions, questions no one wants to ask, but which need to be, now.
These will be the main focus, but not the only focus for 2021. Addressing the important issues and impact of racism and sexual harrassment on student-athletes will continue to be a focus as well.
As I stated in my year end message as the year progresses I will also expand the scope of my focus to include member acquisition, something which to date has not been a priority but which is clearly in the long term also critical to success.
As I said, change will take time in the "new reality".
New ideas, new models, and new thinking are what is needed to deal with the new reality. Who better to bring this to the table than students?
While much needs to change, one thing has not changed. Student-athletes are and will continue to be the future of sports. They are the foundation upon which our provincial, national, and Olympic teams are built. They are the "feeder" for many professional sports.
COVID 19 despite its negative impact provides an opportunity to re-shape the future of sports. For student-athletes like myself, it is an opportunity to shape our future. To do that we need to have a voice - an independent voice.
The Canadian Student-Athlete Association was created to be that voice, to give Canadian student-athletes the ability to realize their full potential, and to mark a new beginning for the future of sports.
It is going to be a busy year.