Posted 10/06/2019 4:39:48 PM by Vanessa Smit

In 1892, at 30 years of age, Canadian James Naismith wrote the first basketball rule book while teaching at the International YMCA Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts. Mr. Naismith’s goal was to bring out the best in young people—a mission that’s still at the core of YMCAs today.

Since then the sport has grown across the world. Whether it’s EuroBasket, NCAA March Madness or the NBA championships, many people feel the buzz and excitement of this fast-paced sport that certainly has personality.

Let’s fast forward 128 years to where we are today—the most historic NBA basketball series in our country's history: the Toronto Raptors vs. the Golden State Warriors. This is the first time a Canadian team has made its way to the NBA Championships. To say Canadians are proud would be an understatement.

We are pumped about this beautiful moment in history for a few reasons and, no, not all of those reasons are because we have historical ties to the sport here at the Y #HumbleBrag. What we are most excited about is the many ways in which this sport is bringing people together.

A new wave of community is coming to life through the power of sport. If you’ve been watching the news and keeping a keen eye on Canada’s team, you might have noticed surprising — and maybe not so surprising—ways the Raptors have helped bring communities together.

#WeTheNorth Connects Canadians

  • Friends from San Francisco, Miami, Toronto, Europe—all over the world are connecting digitally and in-person in excitement of this historical time.
  • We’re seeing fans join each other at away games, singing O’ Canada proudly and making friends all with the shared connection of simply being Canadian.
  • Media is showing how “Canadian” we really can be, especially when it comes to trash-talking with lots of people opting to not speak poorly about another team—it really can’t get more Canadian.
  • Even the proudest Torontonians would be amazed to see so many West Coast folks connecting, cheering and proudly wearing their #WeTheNorth Raptors gear.

Even Non-Sporty People Might Be Feeling Sporty

  • The excitement, energy and success of our Raptors team has started to rub off on even the most sport-adverse folks. People that know nothing about the game or the league are jumping on board, and it’s creating fantastic ways for people to connect.
  • The barriers to join the conversation are low, and that’s why we think this sport is genuinely helping people feel engaged and connected. It doesn’t matter if you’re a sports person or not—it’s more about sharing in the excitement. It is history in the making, after all!

We can now say June 14, 2019, marks a significant moment in Canadian history the Toronto Raptors earned the official title of NBA Champions—a first for Canada. When speaking about this great achievement on SportsCenter after the championship game, President of Basketball Operations, Masai Ujiri noted the power and importance of positivity, believing and bringing people from all over the world together. To us, this shows sport has the potential to foster community. 

During the post-game broadcast NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, said, “…congratulations, basketball has come full circle in Canada. It was invented by a Canadian. The first NBA game was in Toronto. And, now, an NBA Championship!” As lovely as the title is, what we see is hard work, resilience and determination paying off. We’re proud to see a team foster connection and belonging. Most importantly, we’re lucky to witness sport unifying not only a city but a country. It shows that positive energy is contagious. 

So, cheers to the 6ix in six! We couldn’t be happier to see people feeling engaged and connected. We’ll be out here looking forward to cheering you on again and again, because together #WeTheNorth and well, more officially, #WeTheChamps! 

*Images borrowed from: @TorontoDateIdeas, @YorkRegionGovt, @NBACanada,*


Want to join the Y community as a Volunteer Basketball Coach or Manager? Click here to learn about current YMCA Basketball opportunities near you. 

About Vanessa Smit

Vanessa is a Marketing and Communications Manager based out of Vancouver. Don't be surprised if you find her researching cause related initiatives, French Bulldog puppies, playing in the sun or watching Raptors games. She's inspired by seeing and learning about engaging marketing campaigns, especially ones that help increase awareness of mission-driven initiatives—ask for examples, she would be happy to share!

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