Sport Law & Strategy Group Shares Helpful Tips from Conversation Matters: You Ask, We Share! - Update 16

Published January 21, 2021

The SLSG believes in bringing members of the sport community together through our monthly “Conversation Matters: You Ask, We Share”, spending an hour with sport leaders from across the country sharing information and responding to questions on employment, insurance, leadership, financial management, grief management, equity, diversity and inclusion and other matters related to managing through COVID-19.

Our next one will be on February 24, from noon to 1 PM EST and you can register here:

Here’s what SLSG Partners Steve Indig and Dina Bell-Laroche and Team Members Melissa Knox, Lauren Brett, Jason Robinson, and Michelle Kropp had to share:

  • Dina shared that she is offering Grief Cafés for athletes and coaches who are looking for healthy and healing coping strategies to integrate their grief. Melissa and Dina are excited to collaborate on Grief Cafés specific to members of the Black community and are open to exploring how we might be of service to help reconcile grief as a result of exclusionary practices. In addition, Dina reminded participants that there are a number of complaints being brought forward that may be better managed through a facilitated conversation with one of the SLSG’s Integral Coaches. If you are keen to learn more, please read Stewarding Conflict for Part I and II. Rather than work through interpersonal conflict through a legal process, the SLSG Integral Coaches are trained in supporting courageous conversations where participants are encouraged to speak their truth, share their needs, and resolve differences in an open and candid manner. Finally, Dina shared some of the ways we can use the NOVA Profile to hire new candidates in a manner that adds to existing recruitment and hiring practices. The NOVA Profile can be used to create a Job Description that aligns with behavioral preferences and when guided by an Integral Coach, the Committee can benefit from additional perspectives and by inviting the candidates to respond to powerful questions. During the pandemic, we have been supporting clients in hiring more intentionally and the feedback has been very well received. One of our clients said recently that using the NOVA and integrating it within their culture was the best decision that she made in 2021! For more information, please connect with
  • Lauren then shared exciting news about the upcoming launch of a virtual Coaching Leadership Program that will offer coaches access to customized, peer-to-peer, and emotionally intelligent leadership development to support and complement their existing knowledge. Integrating the NOVA, Lauren’s own vast knowledge and experience as a nationally recognized rhythmic gymnastics coach, and her two decades of senior leadership at one of Canada’s premier performing arts school, coaches will have a unique opportunity to learn, grow, share, and expand consciousness in an intimate and safe learning environment. For more information, please connect with Lauren at
  • We then invited the SLSG’s Melissa Knox to share her views on inclusive practices that sport leaders must consider if we are to truly live into our commitment for more equitable, inclusive, and diverse cultures. These included:
    • Initiate a conversation with your membership about diversity and inclusion.
    • Conduct an EDI (equity, diversity, and inclusion) audit of your policies, priorities, and programs.
    • Have an EDI policy that spells out your commitments and is led by a committee that is culturally competent.
    • Host EDI presentations for staff, your Board, your committees, coaches, and athletes. The more we share the same language and have a shared understanding of good EDI practices, the more we can live our values. A really great place to start is in our unconscious bias learning workshop.
    • Review your images to ensure you are representing your sport in an inclusive and equitable matter.
    • Ensure your values are reflected in your decision-making structures.
    • Beyond ensuring your policies are inclusive and equitable, consider the following ways to inform, educate and engage your members and participants:
      • Mentorship and Fem-torship initiatives
      • Intentional recruitment efforts
      • Anti-black racism
      • Education and training
      • Awareness campaigns
      • Support and grief work for under-represented communities
    • Michelle had wonderful insights to share on the evolving nature of COVID-related liability and how refusal to allow a participant with a mask exemption to participate might be a violation of human rights. Further insights included:
      • Organizations have a duty of care to their participants
      • Human rights legislation must also be respected and complied with
      • During the pandemic, masking legislation has become commonplace
      • Organizations are planning for return to play and it is critical to consider potential issues regarding what happens if a participant wishes to participate and has a mask exemption
      • The competing interests of duty of care to ensure the safety of your participants (as reasonably possible) must be balanced with the right of participants to be free from discrimination on the basis of a protected grounds which include illness, typically, and other reasons why a mask exemption may be granted
      • While no specific cases involved sport could be found, the case law so far demonstrates that safety is paramount; while refusing to allow participants with a mask exemption to participate, this may put many others at risk. Safety concerns due to a pandemic are justifiable reasons and we predict this will continue for the near future
      • However, this may change as numbers improve and restrictions are lifted. Stay tuned!
    • Jason re-affirmed his commitment to supporting our clients as a parliamentarian and through our virtual meeting platform subscription with Simply Voting. Fresh off having supported more than 50 sport leaders in 2020 to ensure their governance and meeting requirements were maintained, Jason shared some key learnings including:
      • Book your sessions early as we are already booking into September.
      • Ensure your participants know and understand the benefits of using a parliamentarian to enhance meeting efficiency and support both the members and the chairperson.
      • Consider having Jason host a few one-on-one sessions to coach the chair in their meeting management capabilities to advance their skills in this area.
      • Finally, if you are keen to manage risks more intentionally, please reach out to Jason at who is leading the SLSG’s risk management efforts. Consider how your proactive work now will help you ensure your events, travel, and overall decision-making practices are informed by world-leading risk management standards.
    • We completed with Steve Indig providing an update on legal matters including:
      • Keep running your financial models to ensure you have thought through the various scenarios for the next year and possible multiple mandatory shutdowns.
      • Don’t rush through your decision-making. Think beyond 2021 to what your organization will need once this pandemic is over.
      • Ensure you have a 3rd party to manage your complaints and that your participants are educated and aware of the processes.
      • Remain on top of the requirements or potential requirements relating to safe sport.

To access our recording, please visit here:

Our high hopes for the sector are to re-imagine new ways to deal with the stuff that might be keeping you up at night and in so doing, feel less alone as a result. If COVID-19 has taught us anything it’s that we need each other more than ever to work through some of the complexities of leading, living, competing, and volunteering in the 21st Century.

The Sport Law & Strategy Group has been providing strategic insight to the Canadian sport community since 1992. We offer a full range of management consulting, leadership development and legal services to the Canadian sport community. We are accessible, affordable, highly skilled, and we bring experience and common sense to every project. Our mission is to help you achieve yours. To learn more about us please visit For more information, please contact Dina Bell-Laroche at 613-591-1246 or 613-294-4118 or

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