• David Thibodeau

Sport's Power to Inspire

A common thread I have noticed when writing the Sustainable Development Goal articles is the ability for sport to raise awareness on many issues. Similarly to an earlier article on Sport as a Form of Protest, sport can raise awareness on many social issues and help inspire people.


It is often a talking point for many in the sport industry that it has a huge capacity to inspire people. Often this is in the context of the Olympics or other major sporting events. This inspiration often compounds in becoming more active and getting more involved in community sport and recreation. In an article from the BBC, it highlights that since London won the bid to host the 2012 Olympics in 2005, 1.4 million more people are participating in sport in 2013. While this inspiration is important, this is not the kind of inspiration that I am talking about.


The inspiration that I am talking about is how sport can emotionally move people. Sport can pull on our heart strings and make us passionate about important causes.


Every Canadian is familiar with Terry Fox and his Marathon of Hope in 1980. Terry Fox was a young man diagnosed with cancer and lost his leg to cancer when he was 18. He ran 3,339 miles from St. John’s Newfoundland (Canada’s most eastern city), through 6 provinces to Thunder Bay Ontario. He ran almost a full marathon a day for 143 days. Canadians lined the streets to see him run by. He was forced to stop when the cancer spread to his lungs.


The Marathon of Hope was to raise money to fight cancer. To this day, more than $800,000,000 has been raised in Terry’s name for cancer research. Each year, the Terry Fox Walk/Run is held in September. Thousands of Canadians participate in this event in schools, and in community events to raise money for cancer research.


The Marathon of Hope has had a considerable effect on Canadians. In 1999, Terry Fox was voted as Canada’s Greatest Hero in a survey. He used sport to inspire millions of Canadians in 1980 and for the 40 years since. The Terry Fox Run is now in over 25 countries around the world.


Another great Canadian, Clara Hughes used sport to raise awareness and connect with Canadians on the importance of mental health. In 2013, she initiated annual bike rides across Canada for this social issue. Clara’s Big Ride has inspired people to speak more openly about mental health, and has helped decrease the stigma associated with mental health.


0Mégot is a campaign where the four swimmers will swim the 360km from Paris to the ocean. Highlighting the path of cigarette butts take from the city into the ocean. This campaign is to raise awareness of the issue of pollution in the oceans.


Some of the other campaigns that have used sport to raise awareness and inspire people are:

While many of these events may not be able to be held in person this year, they are adapting to be held virtually.


Sport is more than just inspiring people to be more active and live healthier lives. Sport is about inspiring the best of us. Inspiring us to dream of a better world. Sport cannot stop cancer on it’s own, or stop ocean pollution, but it can be used to inspire people to donate, change their habits and contribute to building a better world. Sport is one of the most versatile tools that we have to inspire change in our society. I highlighted a few examples of how sport can be used in this way, but there are endless other examples of sport being used in this way.

©2020 by Sports for Social Impact.