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Letter to readers: Ottawa Sports Pages Fund Campaign

Ottawa Sports Pages readers,

In high school, I took my duties as the school’s mascot very seriously, even if my Knight costume was a little goofy.

I made it my goal to get out to at least one game for every single one of the school’s sports teams.

I’ll never forget the smiles on the girls water polo players’ faces when I greeted them after their game (even after they’d lost). They couldn’t believe their school mascot had come out to cheer them on in their little-known sport — a sport that nobody seemed to care about besides them.

I was kind of taken aback. “You practise and train just like all the other athletes,” I said. “I can sweat it out on the pool deck in purple and gold spandex and plastic armour at least once to support you!”

I had just stepped onto my path towards creating Ottawa Sports Pages. I just didn’t know it yet.

A few years later I was studying journalism in university when I stopped watching Sportsnet Central religiously. Their lead story was Day 271 of the NHL lockout, featuring extensive coverage of the chief negotiators spewing the same garbage as they had the previous 270 days. Halfway through the show came a tiny 10-second brief noting that Asafa Powell had broken the world record in the men’s 100 metres that day.

The mainstream media’s ongoing fixation with big-league pros is a huge problem throughout Canada, and Ottawa is no exception. I recently studied the sports stories published in our local media here — over 98 percent of the stories focused on pro sports. And female athletes were featured less than nine percent of the time.

That’s why I launched Ottawa Sports Pages 10 years ago — to fill the void and tell all the inspiring local sports stories that our mainstream media neglects.

Ottawa’s high school, university, community and elite amateur sports — that’s our heartbeat.

Because the dedication and passion of these rising young athletes deserves our attention as well. They are not only striving to be their best, they are also forging connections with each other, supporting each other, and strengthening our community.

Half my life later, I experienced a full-circle moment while covering the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games. I may have traded my spandex and plastic armour for a bulky photographer’s bib, but there I was sweating it out on the pool deck again, watching a young swimmer from my old high school equal the record for the most medals ever won at a Canada Games. And guess what?

I was still the only there to interview her after she made national history.

I wish I could say this was an anomaly, but it happens all the time. When three Ottawa soccer teams won historic provincial championships at home on the same day last season, I was the only reporter there to document their unprecedented success.

When Ottawa athletes won more than two dozen medals at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto, I was the only one there from the capital to capture their triumphs.

And this month, Ottawa Sports Pages has been there every step of the way at the Canada Summer Games, trailing our up-and-coming local athletes as they reach major milestones in their careers, en route to perhaps becoming future Olympians.

But we can’t keep doing this alone.

Dedicated, original sports reporting like ours requires resources, especially when we put together big projects like daily coverage on our local athletes at multi-sport games. We’re not here to make a profit, but we do need your help to keep our local community journalism sustainable. That’s why we’re asking our loyal readers to chip in.

If, like me, you believe in showcasing Ottawa’s amateur athletes and encouraging them to shine, please consider making a contribution to our coverage.

Just $10 per month (or any one-time contribution) will help us keep telling their stories, and put us well on our way to covering Ottawa’s triumphs at the next Canada Games in PEI this coming winter.

All donations of $20 or more are eligible for a charitable tax receipt, and here’s the best part — our partners at the Ottawa Community Foundation will be matching all contributions up to $5,000 until August 22!

Together, we can keep showing our up-and-coming young athletes the recognition and support they deserve.


Dan Plouffe
Publisher, Ottawa Sports Pages

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