MINORITY REPORT: Invest in local teams, athletes

Athletes and teams benefit greatly from our support, and so do we

Sports play a huge part in the fabric of south Vancouver Island communities.

The Victoria Shamrocks, Victoria Grizzlies, Victoria HarbourCats, Victoria Royals, Westshore Rebels and numerous other teams based here have proven to provide important opportunities and goals for youth. They can give athletes a chance to compete at a high level, learn the discipline it takes to do so, earn scholarships or offer others a chance to have fun by being a fan. They give our youth an avenue to look up to other than a computer screen, whether it is as an athlete or as a fan.

If the Vancouver Canucks were consistently competitive challenging for the Stanley Cup year after year, could you imagine the interest level they would generate from hockey fans across British Columbia?

I believe if the best athletes in their respective sports are able to compete at the highest level, they deserve our support.

In fact, there is a team on the West Shore that played for their third consecutive Canadian championship right here in Colwood, but many haven’t taken an opportunity to watch them play.

The Victoria Shamrocks brought their 14-4 regular season record and 8-0 playoff record into the finals at The Q Centre, having earned the right to compete for the Mann Cup, the lacrosse version of the Stanley Cup. While fans packed the arena for that series, many casual fans I spoke to couldn’t name a single player on the team, even though they won it all. While some people love their lacrosse, I would love to see even more support for what I believe are some of the toughest athletes out there.

The women’s sevens national rugby team, ranked number two in the world and fresh off a dominating sweep of their games in the Pan Am Games in Toronto, en route to Canadian Gold, is another example of local excellence. They have qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, they have their eyes on a medal and their team boasts the best women in the world – and they train right here in Langford. How many of their players can you name?

Money is tight and it’s never easy to spend unless it’s justified. But consider the value of our youth seeing excellence in their own back yard. What is an opportunity to see the best in the world compete at the highest level worth to you?

Have you ever wondered what that support is worth to these amazing athletes, many of whom do it more for the love of the game than the money? Many have jobs and supplement their modest athletic income. Many also travel here from out of province, and most don’t get much in the way of financial support despite being in the top of their class.

I was always more an arts person than a sporty person growing up, but as a father of two young children I see the importance of sport in a way I never considered before.

That is especially important with the increase of our youth being glued to electronic devices for too many hours in the day. Believe me, I know, because I have been part of the problem.

That is not to say these devices have no value, that huge multi-billion dollar organizations or pro sports teams don’t deserve support as well,  or even that supporting sports is more important than supporting anything else.

There are many organizations that deserve our support.

I enjoy NHL hockey and Toronto Blue Jays win streaks as much as the next person. Believe me, I hope to wave my towel to their successes even though I know those players get paid more per game than I make in a year.

What I am saying is, we should consider supporting local franchises and athletes. They deserve our respect as much as any other top-tier performers in the world and just happen to compete in our own back yard. Without a doubt, there are many more than the ones I have listed here.

Local ticket prices are reasonable, writing letters of encouragement are free and cheers cost only the effort it takes to make them heard. I believe, these athletes will appreciate and reciprocate the support in a way that you may not appreciate today.

Who knows, your children’s ticket might be an investment in their future health without them realizing it. Now isn’t that an financial risk worth taking?

Arnold Lim is a reporter with the Goldstream News Gazette.

alim@goldstreamagazette.com

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