Lara stands with one elbow on a table and her fist under her chin. She looks out the window, reflecting. Opportunities. Spark Solutions.

Identifying Opportunities, Even in the Darkness

August 24 marks 3 years since I launched Spark Solutions. I started this business because I could see the opportunities. There was an opportunity to work for myself and be my own boss. I could work with multiple sports whereas before I could only work with one sport at a time. There was an opportunity to make a positive impact on sport in a different way than before. I could work with organizations who also saw the opportunities and wanted to deliver great sport for all.

Seeing opportunities is a core part of who I am. I identify challenges and areas for improvement. Naming things is important to me but I don’t mire or wallow. I identify the challenges so that I can find solutions. And then I work to execute them. I believe this is one element of what makes me a great consultant.

Hockey Canada and its Scandal

There have been a lot of negative headlines around the scandal with Hockey Canada. If you’ve missed the headlines, it began in April when a woman filed a $3.5-million lawsuit that alleged she was sexually assaulted by eight hockey players in 2018, including members of the world junior team. Since then, there has been extensive criticism about how the matter has been handled and many calls for action and accountability, including the replacement of the organization’s management. This has continued to add fire to the conversation about how there is a safe sport crisis that needs to be addressed effectively now. Some have asked for the federal government to conduct a national inquiry around safe sport.

Responses have varied but have been largely negative. Participants are concerned and some are considering turning away from sport. Sport organizers are extremely worried about what might come out from the depths of their organization’s histories. Many are on the defensive, scrambling to draft policy and implement other protective measures to ensure their risks are managed. Others are frozen in action because they don’t know where to start.

From a Stumble to a Sprint

This could certainly be a moment to feel discouraged, but right now, I see opportunities. I see the opportunities to build sport back better. There’s an opportunity to turn these negative headlines surrounding past abuse and maltreatment in sport into positives. One approach would be to take action on the defensive and bring our policies and practices to just above the water line to meet today’s standards. But another approach that we could take would be to lean in and set our standards far above the water line. We could become a leader in this area and make it less likely that we’ll fall behind in a year or two.

We can choose to be afraid of what has happened or might happen. Or, we can see it as an opportunity to move forward with purpose. To reflect honestly on our current environment and how we can change. Then we can begin where we are at and do what we can to make changes. Little changes will add up into big changes and we’ll be able to say that we capitalized on this opportunity.

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