Athletes truly capable of making history are few and far between. Nordic skier Beckie Scott qualifies beyond dispute.
What’s quietly amazing about the Canmore, Alta., native is that she is still changing the world, a full 20 years after becoming the first North American woman to win an Olympic medal in her sport. It took a while, but that medal became gold, as the worm turned.
Most athletes have known for years about Scott’s standout integrity in a sport notoriously plagued by doping. The rest of the world woke up to her commitment to fair play when they saw her in the 2017 Oscar-winning documentary ‘Icarus’.
Scott, alongside hurdling great Edwin Moses, did everything in her power to steer the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) toward binding rulings for clean competition. In the eyes of many athletes, both WADA and the International Olympic Committee are still coming up short in that regard. But Scott’s principled fight for fair play kept the pressure and the spotlight on. And if the world gets the upper hand on cheating nations and athletes, it will be Scott’s work that led the charge.
Which brings Scott to her latest history-making fight for fairness. Nearly five years ago, she threw her energy into Spirit North — a non-profit working with indigenous communities to give young people opportunities for sport that they would otherwise be denied.
Why is this historic? Because it’s working.
Every year, around 6,300 Indigenous kids get a first chance to try a variety of land-based sports. Skiing, canoeing, mountain biking — the list of sports, and communities joining the program, just keeps growing and growing.
Talking about this today on Player’s Own Voice podcast with Anastasia Bucsis, Scott makes clear that a strong moral compass has been her guide all along.
An analogy that served her WADA years was that doping was like having a starting gate that is ten metres ahead of everyone else. Scott points to the convergence of historic, systemic factors and practices that have relegated many young Indigenous kids to a starting gate that is ten metres behind other young Canadians.
For Scott, it’s clear: a deep unfairness needs to be redressed. Making history again? That just goes with the job.
And on a minor note, Scott is helping make history yet again. She is the 100th guest on CBC Sports’ Player’s Own Voice podcast.
For our hard of hearing and deaf audience members, we are pleased to provide transcripts
Like the CBC Sports’ Player’s Own Voice essay series, the POV podcast allows athletes to speak to Canadians about issues from a personal perspective.
To listen to the entire fourth season, follow Player’s Own Voice on Spotify, iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Tune In or wherever else you do your podcast listening.