COLUMN: Take in the games for Canadian camaraderie

Sport a uniting force for a divided country

The spirit of competition is in the air in Central Alberta, as more than 20,000 people have flocked to our region to take in the 2019 Canada Winter Games.

Closer to home, the Lacombe Generals are right in the midst of a playoff run that will ultimately end with them hosting the Allan Cup April 8th to 13th at the Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex.

All in all, Central Albertans are — and have been for a long time — spoiled by the quality of sport we have in our region.

What is unique to the Games, however, is the pure joy that amateur sports bring to athletes, parents, volunteers, families and spectators.

For many young athletes, this will be the defining moment of their sports careers and they luckily, for us, get to share that moment with the rest of Canada.

Canada is a very large country and — as Albertans know full well — many provinces can often feel a sense of isolation and difference. What the Games have done for me and are hopefully doing for everyone else is helping to make those differences seem to matter a bit less.

Red Deer, and Central Alberta by extension, has been a welcoming place where citizens from across the nation have come to cheer on their athletes and cheer on Canada in general.

This is what familiarity breeds.

Rather than focus on the issues that divide us — sport can be a force that connects us.

Ten provinces and three territories have come together to create wonderful moments for young athletes who have worked their whole lives to be here. For me, as someone who studies and reports on difference and change, seeing positivity bloom in the community is a welcome change and has helped breathe new life into my outlook…at least temporarily.

If you get a chance, I encourage you to make the short trek to Red Deer to take some of the Games in, to cheer on the athletes and mingle with your fellow Canadians.

I also encourage you to do the same when the Allan Cup comes to Lacombe in April.

In a world that is divided with ideology, it is important for us to connect on the things that connect us and when better to do that when Canadians have been invited to our doorstep.

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