Basketball united us for several weeks in May and June, leaving an indelible impact on people across the country. “We The North” was a rallying cry for every Canadian to celebrate an amazing sports story, an incredible story of teamwork, and an opportunity to showcase the diversity, not just of the Raptors, but of Canada. It inspired people from coast to coast to grab their basketball and head to the local court.
In my family, it led my six-year-old daughter, Olivia, to ask where our basketball was. When we pulled it out (a little dusty and a bit flat), she was infatuated. After several shots and some sad attempts at dribbling, because the ball needed some air, I offered to pump it up. When I handed it back to her and she dribbled and took a shot, she looked at me in awe and said, “Oh Mom, that is sooo much better.”
Olivia continued playing for minutes, hours, days, and now weeks. Basketball is her favourite sport now—despite it not being something that interested her much at all prior to watching the playoffs. The important thing is that she now knows how to throw, catch, dribble, and shoot. Whether this is a passing fad or a sport she sticks with, she has the choice because she now has the skills to play. And these skills are with her for life.
For now, we will be out back, shooting hoops.
Nelson Mandela once said, “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.” It’s a feeling that Canada has just experienced first-hand.