Don’t worry, my friends, I don’t intend to write an academic paper on the rights and freedoms of all athletic residents of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

However, let me try to stimulate thought and discussion, in the hope that more nominations will be received this spring for the NOTL Sports Wall of Fame.

We know there are many wonderful people among us who deserve to be included on the Sports Wall of Fame at Virgil’s Meridian Arena.

So many NOTLers have made a significant contribution to sports in our community. Especially during the ongoing deadly global pandemic, we have been reminded that sport is an integral part of a healthy and diverse community.

Diverse! There is still this word. We have a hardworking and open-minded committee for diversity and inclusiveness. To that end, I recently spoke to a member of the Sports Wall of Fame committee to express my observation that 27 people are currently honored on our wall.

All deserving, but somewhat homogeneous. There are 24 older white men and only three women. Seems barely representative of the local population, huh?

He informed me that over the past decade, several women had been invited to join the selection committee, but only one had agreed to get involved.

I remembered my mother’s oft-repeated response when I complained about something. This wise lady from Cochrane, high up in northern Ontario, said calmly, “You have absolutely no right to complain if you don’t get involved. Words to remember, in today’s whiny and critical society.

One can be inducted as an athlete or a builder. And yes, a few “Builders” seemed a little disappointed that they weren’t inducted as “athletes”. I’m just having fun…

In 1982, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms included the right to equality, including gender equality. Things are changing so fast now, with the various sources of information available in our weird and wacky world.

Let me digress a bit and include a quick history of 1964 in St. Catharines, just to point out how quickly our attitudes are changing. What was accepted then, only 58 years ago, seems ridiculous now.

For years, the Nicholson and Flowers families were highly respected Niagrans, top athletes in many sports. They were respected, up to a point. Times were different then.

On our St. Catharines Lions Club midget all-star hockey team (15, not diminutive), there was a lanky, soft-skating right winger named Mike Nicholson. Her long legs looked like they could go in different directions.

He was an excellent teammate and his nickname was “Spaghetti Legs”. We were told his future in hockey was limited because “they” had weak ankles. Nicholson then played for Brock, and in 1968 became the first black captain of a Canadian college hockey team.

I’m just making a point, my friends. Attitudes and thoughts change so quickly. Fortunately.

Let’s get women nominated for our sports wall of fame. Now. So many of them have brought honor to Niagara-on-the-Lake, both as athletes and builders.

Step up, ladies, and remember my mother’s words. Get involved and make a difference.

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