Sport is a refuge for so many young people and provides an outlet for social skills, leadership and mental health, among other benefits. In this episode I sit down with a national expert on sport and coaching, Dr. Jonathan Edwards. He shares insights about the tremendous value sport offers young people and the potential it has to positively impact society.
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Dr. Jon Edwards 0:00
I always taught my I always taught my kids when I when I coach them. They say, Coach, I don't want I don't want to try that. I heard that all the time. I don't want to try that move. I don't want to try. Why not? When else are you going to do it? You got to try it to master it right? The big analogy that I ingrained into my daughter kids in this is a hockey analogy. But good players practice what they do well, great players practice what they don't do well, and it's the model that I always live by. And it's the model that I teach my kids
Stuart Murray 0:39
Welcome to episode number nine of the connected movement podcast. I'm your host, Steve Murray. Are you disillusioned with our old outdated systems and stories? Are you tired of the growing polarization in society? So am I my aim is to engage in and unpack conversations with people from all walks of life as a means of CO creating a way forward for humanity. Today's guest is Dr. John Edwards, who holds a PhD in the field of sport management from the University of Alberta. John has extensive research and experience in the field of sport management and is deeply passionate about sharing this experience with young and curious minds. He is a big believer in challenging his students offering ongoing support and accessibility. He's a big believer in challenging his students being accessible so that they can learn and have someone to lean on and dive deep into the field of experiential learning as a gateway to transformational knowledge. I really hope you enjoy this episode. And before we dive in a thank you to our sponsor, Karen Phytoplankton. Many daily discomforts are the result of malnourishment, you may be malnourished, if you crash in the afternoon, you have digestive issues, you get lots of headaches, have trouble sleeping, you have muscle or joint pain, have trouble concentrating and so on. The good news is the right supplementation can help with this. I've personally benefited from using Karen Phytoplankton, which has helped me find more energy in the afternoons and beat that crash. You can find Karen Phytoplankton products at Costco locations or online at the Karen project.ca. Without further ado, let's dive in as we get started, I'm curious, like what brought you into sports in the first place?
Dr. Jon Edwards 2:45
Oh, well, you know, for me, it was about family. Family, you know, yeah, you my my father's side. He was very active in sport. He was very active in hockey, baseball. And, you know, what you see in a lot of cases with with athletes is, you know, that's usually the starting point, dad or mom more involved in sports. So they feel they'll see the value in sports and recreation, and so they're gonna get the kids active. That's not to say that people that weren't involved in sport aren't getting their kids active and things up. But usually that's the common thread. And for me, that was the common thread. It was just, you know, I don't know if it was my parents going boy, he's high energy, and we need to burn off some energy on him. And so let's put them into soccer and hockey and let's, and baseball and call it a day but or it was, you know, simply the fact of they were involved in sport and that trend and they wanted me to have that experience and particularly hockey was very, very big in my family.
Stuart Murray 2:45
So when did you get started?
Dr. Jon Edwards 3:56
The hockey I was about four. And in, in had a bit of a no is the typical learn to skate. But then it really started playing when I probably moved to Kitchener Waterloo when I was six, seven, and started playing games and practices and understanding what that was. It's funny, because I was looking at a picture of me the other day, and it's not that I look at a lot of pictures of myself, but I was looking at a picture of me when I was at that age when I six seven and I still have the picture and I was playing for the transformers. They're called the transport. And I had the Cooper all pants and you don't see those anymore. The old Philadelphia Flyers he still pants but I had I had a pair and so it was just it was just neat to see and kind of reminisce all those, how it's changed, right? I mean, just looking at, you know, I was out the other day or a couple of months ago. And my daughters are skating but they're not playing, but they just like to skate and they used to like to throw around a puck A little bit, you know, you go to the store and you want to buy a stick and you're thinking like the old Canadian Tire, Sherwood, coho, wood hockey stick, they just, they just don't exist, everything is like, like $100 and up and you gotta buy a graphite stick. And I'm like, I just want to go to an open pond, my kids to have a stick and kind of just pass the puck around. And anyway, that's I kind of digressed a little bit. But, you know, that was a little bit about it.
Stuart Murray 5:27
Well, isn't that something I remember as well, even back when that first synergy stick came out, and it was all the rage that silver synergy. And, you know, I don't think things I've looked back from there. But I remember, I could had barely broken a wooden stick throughout my days, you know, I could beat and thrash that all the way. But then I started snapping 100 $200 sticks no problem.
Dr. Jon Edwards 5:51
Well, it's interesting because my, like my uncle, great uncle, Jack, he, he owned a factory in Wallaceburg, Ontario, and they made Louisville hockey sticks. And so because we were related and had a good relationship and stuff, and I got all Louisville equipment growing up and one of the interesting one was I was one of the first to get the rubber stick. So they put a rubber coating on a graphite stick. And so I got that. I was also one of the first to get the lock jaw where you could in the middle of the game, you could change a blade because it wasn't glue anymore. It was a screw that expanded out into the middle. And I mean those I actually still have that original, that original lock jaw sitting. But I don't think I'd get any more blades for it. But anyway, it's kind of one of those nostalgic features and
Stuart Murray 6:46
No kidding. That's a hockey evolution relic right there.
Dr. Jon Edwards 6:50
Stuart Murray 6:51
So you I actually also started hockey when I was four years old. And that was that was a big sport for me to get into. Did you guys have that Timbits program where you were as well? Or was it just some communal?
Dr. Jon Edwards 7:04
No, we didn't have Timbits at least I don't remember we having Timbits we had the transport we had that. You know that initial you know, it's basically the same thing as Timbits except Tim Hortons got to put their name on it eventually. Right? It's, it's the exact same program.
Stuart Murray 7:24
Sounds way cooler though.
Dr. Jon Edwards 7:25
Yeah, we there was the Autobots, and there was like, there. They're all kind of like these cartoon names at the time. And it's funny because you do like, at that time we would do. We do one practice and I think a game last week. And it was a full voice, which they don't do anymore. They they do half ice which makes a whole lot more sense. us trying to be like three feet and trying to skate from one end to the other and back and forth. And so anyway, but yeah, we didn't have Timbits I don't think we had Timbits at the time.
Stuart Murray 8:02
So you started working your way up in hockey did you end up starting to play at more competitive levels like in New Brunswick we called them provincial Adam and peewee and started moving up did you start to play in more competitive
Dr. Jon Edwards 8:17
those are all those are just the New Brunswick those are like you know those are national levels right um, and they've removed those names they're ended like you 13 You 14 like naming now they're they've removed the atom the peewee the midget The Bantam I competitively probably started to play a peewee and, and really the reason why I started to play competitively instead of kind of being in that house league section is peewee at that time was you're hitting level that was when you started body contact and I was very very good at it. I don't hold any qualms about it. I was extremely good at it and coaches took notice so I ended up playing double A for a number of years.
Stuart Murray 9:04
Nice Yeah, I resonate actually got into the exact same journey, when peewee hit on and hitting became a thing that that was really fun time as a young boy to have all that pre hormonal energy and be able to take it out on the ice was a really nice release. Yeah, absolutely. And I know in our conversation before you had mentioned, you know, you as a young boy, you struggled a little bit with finding some groundedness some some peace and you mentioned something about going to practice or being you know, being at hockey, playing sports doing something for you. Could you mention talk a little bit more about that?
Dr. Jon Edwards 9:42
Yeah, when I grew up, I mean, I wasn't by any means a kid that was causing problems, but I was a kid that really lost, I wouldn't say lost his way. It just didn't have a direction on where they were going. I think you know, sometimes as a kid, you, you know, like, I want to be the doctor, I want to be the lawyer, I want to, I didn't have that. I, my, my sanction for me was, you know, going to the rink. And, and school is kind of like the farthest thing from going to the rink, right? I mean, if if, if I had a choice, I would always put the rink. And, and it became a concern. Well, there's always a concern from from our parents, because, you know, they wanted, Where's John gonna go? Was he gonna go to universities and go college, we want him to do something, is he going to go into a trade? Because at that time I set my stepfather was an electrician, and own his own company. I mean, those were all options kind of on the table. But they didn't interest me. And they didn't really do that in sport, was one of those things that I could, I could, I could understand you put it in a sport context, and I got it. I mean, if I always use the analogy, sometimes is, if English had all sport examples, man, I would have done well in English. I mean, because I clicked in it resonated in my head, if you put it into a sport context, it's not to say I didn't under always understand the other ones, but I just did better when it was in that context. And for me, sport was that avenue for understanding and, and in knowing, in getting a grasp, on kind of, you know, what the real world is, right. And I, as I told you before, it was it was interesting, because it was, I got to a point and I met this one person in university, who was my academic advisor. So now university, so in high school, academic advisor, in her names, is slipping my flipping for me right now. But anyway, she, you know, it's when you look at a journey for a person, and I always say this to my class, when I teach HR and human resources, you're on a pathway up a life pathway. And on that pathway, there's always going to be these people that influence you on that pathway, whether that's a teacher, whether that's a academic advisor, whether that's a professor, I mean, and for me, there was just one, there's, it started off with one academic adviser in, in my high school that said, you know, John, there's a, there's a lot of programs that you can do that are sport focused, if that's what you want to do. That changed my whole world that it changed. Like, really, like, I can do something like that. And then it became research and figuring out where, where I could go, and, and there's lots of options available in Ontario.
Stuart Murray 12:52
Wow, very interesting. And we're gonna get into that your personal pathway and journey that that took you on, which is a really interesting spin, just finding that right person in that right moment to kind of show you the way a little bit. But before we do, you mentioned something that you said, sport was something that I could always understand. And I'm very curious about, you know, I'd love to hear you unpack a little bit more like, learning through sport. Why was that such a rich vehicle for learning?
Dr. Jon Edwards 13:23
Well, Nelson Mandela, famously said that sport is a reflection of our society. And, and, and really, when you think about it, whether it's competition, whether it's, whether it's politics, whether it's right, whether it's entertainment, whether it's physical activity, these are all elements that reflect how society works. And, and for me to it for me to understand society and how it's working. And to unpack some of that, I think of things in a sport context, right, like, so, if I'm talking to students about a business, right, and I say, you know, what's the competition that a business has to think about? Well, if you put that into a sports competition, it's who are the other teams competing for the same for that overall goal? Right? Who, who's who's the best player on the on the ice, the field, the court? Right? And you put that into those contacts. And then you apply it in like, say, a business setting. You for me, that was just easier to put it into those terms and saying, what who's competing against Google? Right and, and but if you say like, who are the who are the teams that are competing or what what are those factors that you have to think about because in say, if you take you take any sport, right, like for example, hockey, there's, you know, there's a player playing at an elite level has all These factors that are going to, did they eat the right foods? When they went up before they went on the ice? Did they stretch enough? Did they? Are they? Are they doing their pregame routine with their the music they're listening to? Right? All those different things. And those are factors or environmental factors as I look at it that can influence the outcome of how that player is going to play if you apply that now into a real setting. For example, if I'm a manager of an organization, and I'm noticing that I'm not getting the output or the performance that I'm looking for, from, from by employees, then I gotta look at what what are those factors? Right, like, what are those factors that I'm not seeing? Maybe it's before jumping down and saying that they need to be fired or something like that. Maybe I need to look at what's their proven, pregame routine? What's, what are they? Did they have a bad day, like all these different things, right. And so for me, putting it in that context helped me become a manager, a leader. And just overall understood, it was able to understand things a little bit better.
Stuart Murray 16:08
I can really relate to that. Just being able to having been in that and seeing those intricate dynamics of teams. And I really like, you know, what you're touching on there around the power of routine, and so much all the work that goes into everything prior to a game, right that, you know, you only have that snap of a finger where the the actual score is counted, but the amount of steps that are taken from the individual to the collective that require the functioning of a good organization, which is very interesting, I guess, one. So that's all this ability to even contextualize, and apply it in other ways. But what I'm also wondering to maybe, is there an experiential component that you were able to, you know, you played on teams? So was there something there that through your personal experiences that allowed you to be able to apply or view that lens through to better understand these systems?
Dr. Jon Edwards 17:09
Well, I think so, I mean, it's the old analogy that is sport provides you with life skills, right. And for me, sport, did things like, teach me and I know, sometimes there's this old analogy, also of IT leaders aren't, you can't make a leader they're born. Right. And, and I'm not, I'm not always I don't always notice that that's completely true. But for me, sport did things like home, my leadership skills, my ability to step up for myself, it helped me be able to teach, I think, well, that was one of the biggest things that I did. And it wasn't the fact that I'm in sport, that that's where I'm going with it is more or less the skill sets that I need to be able to teach, there's no the skill sets to facilitate, right. And along with that, that that initial playing, it led me to coaching and I look at and it was funny, because I was in the car last night with my daughter, and she's gonna she's gonna, she's 14 years old. And we're going to do this woman and Leadership Initiative for the future of basketball. And it's, it's really to take girls at an early age and try and develop their leadership skills. And we're doing that through sport. And we're going to do that in basically teaching him to coach. And so for me, coaching is like teaching, right and, and coaching has always been a passion of mine. But to get back to the point is is is that starting of playing led me to coaching which led me to engaging in teaching which helped me in trance, transfer those skills into to where I am, in terms of presentations, in terms of lecturing in terms of keynote, speaking in terms of just actually talking to my colleagues on a one on one basis, or in a group setting or running a meeting, right? I mean, those all those skill sets, I would argue in a lot of ways came out of playing being involved in a team. You know, even simple things like showing up on time, right? I mean, that was ingrained in my head when I was playing is you never show up. You know, one minute before you're supposed to you always show up 15 minutes. And that was something that was instilled into me it drives drives my kids absolutely nuts because we're always sitting in a parking lot 15 minutes before they even need to be there but it's just something that is very important that you never be late, right? It's, you know, and and you're always prepared. Right and, and in no in and The big thing that it taught me, which I'm trying to teach my kids is, is you know, you have to be responsible for your athletics. And that's a phrase that goes around in our house. Because if they forget a shoe, if they forget, well, there's not much to it. But I mean, I forgot helmets and in you know, I overlooked a skate or things like that, and you're in the middle of a tournament, two hours away from your home rink, you're not playing right or, or you're begging your dad to go buy a $200 helmet just to make up so that you because you forgot your helmet. It's, it's what I try to teach my kids is that they're responsible for their athletics. So if they need, if they want, for example, my daughter can't make a practice tonight. Well, it was her responsibility to talk to the coach at the last game, so that they had lots of lead time and explain why and that the situation, it's not up to me. But it's up to them. And so stuff like that, for me was what got instilled into me through the team, the, what it's all about, and, and the competitive nature of it, and, and it's allowed me to transfer those skills beyond.
Stuart Murray 21:09
Yeah, I really liked that idea of being personally accountable to something to something bigger than ourselves. Yeah, it's what a beautiful metaphor for life, and what a way to, to take us out of that victim mentality where, you know, life happens to us. And instead, you know, life happens through us and, and when you're a part of a team, that's a small enough amount of numbers, you can see that you have an influence. And you know, when you do forget your helmet, or you do forget your skate, you know, there's a difference there, you now your, your linemates, your, your the rotation on the bench, everything is skewed. Yeah. And so then you got to sit there and watch what what a big difference that makes.
Dr. Jon Edwards 21:48
Yeah, and I mean, you're, you're talking about forgetting things. But I mean, there's also like, for me, there was an element that my parents instilled into me, as well as like, Listen, you don't have your homework done. You're not going to hockey, but it's not our fault that you didn't get your homework done. It's your fault. So no, you have to go and tell and explain to your teammates, why you've let them down. In terms of not getting it done. And man, you do that once and you learn very, very quickly. You feel like a bit of a, an ass to be honest, like, you said that you sit there and you're and you're in, it really hits home like geez, if if this is going to work, and I'm going to make this commitment, then I need to, I need to pull up my socks and and do what I need to do for the team. And for me, that's that's big. And and so, you know, if I went back to your original question for me, just the fact of how a team works. And team dynamics is something I tried to apply in almost everything I do here now. Right is, you know, the best example is creating subcommittees I look at subcommittees not as subcommittees, I look at them as many teams that are getting together, and that they're going to try and solve a problem or a task that we've, we've set them up to do. And, and for me that that's all about that team mentality.
Stuart Murray 23:12
That's brilliant. And yeah, we're on this big rock. And we're a big team made up of little teams in different places and sub sub themes and, and seeing it from that lens, especially when you have that lens of being able to apply from your own personal experiences and know what that feels like to let somebody down and have to own that and, and tell them that you're right, it feels like crap. And, you know, if you want to contribute to a high functioning team, well, then you know, that that that pattern cannot continue and a change has to be made. And the only person that can make that change is yourself.
Dr. Jon Edwards 23:49
That's right, absolutely.
Stuart Murray 23:51
So when you met this person, this advisor who kind of spun up on the journey of you know, what, your new trajectory, I'm sure there's been many people on that, but this pivotal moment there. What started to happen for you, you had mentioned that you started a program for sport.
Dr. Jon Edwards 24:11
Well, so in Ontario at the time that we still had OAC so I was like one of them. I think it was the last year that had do grade 13 And so for grade 13 That's how you get into university right? So they didn't take your grade 12 marks you had to go into OAC and you basically you took six courses that were your were the courses. And why that becomes important is because I met her in grade 12 When I was thinking about university or college and and you know, I had these still dreams that I was gonna go to the NCAA which just wasn't gonna happen. And then I was playing junior D at the time Junior development, hockey and that's a pretty low league but it's a lot of fun. It's not it said that was a Fighting League. It wasn't that bad. Um there's there's a few bench clearing brawls when I leave out there, um, but anyway, but when I was 12 grade 12, the trajectory that it sent me on was really that it got me focused that I wanted to go to university, I honestly, it was the Brockman at Brock University sport management program, it's the only one in Canada that has a sport management degree. And as a degree, so you get a bachelor of sport management. And for me working that, that gave me a focus of something I wanted to work towards. And so I started to take courses and actually apply myself in the courses, which was a lot different than at that point, and apply myself in those courses with the understanding, like, I need this grade to get into this program, I have these backup programs by this is where I want to go. So this is where I want to start focus. So I started to pay attention. I mean, that's, I guess that's the easiest way to put it. I just I paid attention to what, uh, where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do. And so that helped me move forward in that way. And, and, you know, we didn't meet often, so we didn't meet the high school counselor didn't we didn't meet all that often. But I tell you that we met often enough to get me to that point. I think it was funny, a couple years later, my parents, and I were, you know, at a golf course, and, and I, I been to university, and at that time I, I met the next person, and that was going to be very influential. But at that point, I ran into her at for dinner, I had to give her the biggest hug in the world, because without her I had no idea where I live ended up. And yeah, so for me, it just, it gets you focus, it got me, it got me a destination of where I was going, I didn't feel like I was waving in the wind, so to speak anymore.
Stuart Murray 27:02
It's amazing what a vision and focus can do to help us study the course No, and to move through hardship and turmoil or when you're questioning things. Having that deeper why it's amazing the power of that, what that can do.
Dr. Jon Edwards 27:18
Yeah, you know, to be honest, I think sometimes in education, and again, no knock on teachers, they have a lot to get crammed in there and a thing but I mean, at the end of the day, we all we sit there and we're like, okay, so we got to get this literacy done. We got to do this math, we got to do this history. But nobody takes a step back and says why don't we spend a week just figuring out your career where you want to go? What's the interest, what's available to you? And, and sometimes I think that gets missed, because at the end of the day, geez, if I didn't have that one teacher or that one counselor, and I didn't know that there was sport organized, like sport programs that I could go into and university and college or I didn't know that, you know, Kinesiology is actually divided into social sciences and natural sciences. And, or, like, I mean, there's, there's just things that you didn't know, and how would you know, if you're not exposed to them. And I think I think from thinking about it from an education standpoint, those are those are those things are like the like, go to go to a university, and you know, set up a tour, bring your class to do a tour. I mean, I'd love to have students high school coming, we do have students coming in if you're here, but you know, coming in showing the Kinesiology bill and get them thinking about it, what can you do with this program? And it doesn't matter what program so it doesn't have to be kinesiology, it can be, you know, history and all these other things. And it's, it's, it's thinking past that, and I think sometimes students and kids, right, because at the end of the day, if I'm recruiting, I'm not trying to not I'm not always trying to necessarily sell the program to the kid because the kid knows what the program is. I'm trying to sell it to the parent to tell them that their their child's going to have a job at the end. And I know that sounds tough, but or sounds a little bit harsh, but it's the reality. If I tell if I've seen I've done it a number of times I've seen you know, parents so so what can they get with a Kinesiology degree? What can they get with a Bachelor of recreation sports? Or is there anything that they can do? Are they just going to be phys ed teachers throwing balls around in the gym? Well, that's a possibility. But assurance moved way past that now.
Stuart Murray 29:37
Yeah, no, that's very interesting. And I agree, you know what you're touching on there as an educator myself, it's, it's remembering that human aspect of education and then, you know, these are not just little beings that you need to cram full of subjects and certain curricular content. But you know, let's let's reach their dreams and their visions. and their aspirations because if we can, I always say if we can like that sacred fire of curiosity and passion, our work is done. Then we can just build the scaffolding and they'll be hungry. They'll ask us, they'll ask us for the information and for the tools and the access. So I think you make a really good point there, John. What did the next steps as he went through school? What was the next part of that trajectory for you as you move forward?
Dr. Jon Edwards 30:29
Going to Brock. I enjoyed myself a lot at Brock. Sport Management, you know, it was awesome. Like I, I get a reading 40 pages and I thought I saw that ever in high school, I'd be like, Oh, God, I'm not I'm gonna figure out a way to is there a Coles note somewhere that I can go and buy or something like that. But here it was, like I was reading about fans. I was reading about coaching, I was reading about how they're running an organization. And that just, it got it got me. It got me going. It really did it. Like I I loved every minute of it. And then the next big thing that really got me going was volunteering. And I started to volunteer. My first big volunteer was actually the Vandy Cup, which is youth sports, national football championships. And at that time, everything was held at the Skydome. Not anymore the Skydome. But the Rogers Center, but but everything was held at the Skydome. And it was funny because the first year I did it, I was like, Oh, they're gonna give me some lame lame job. And sure enough, they did. I like as, as people came in and out of the stadium, I handed out pamphlets. But the thing that I did was I started to watch what, you know, how do they manage volunteers? How do they? How do you know? How does the media work? Can I get there? And And over time, I continued to volunteer every year that I was in the in that in for that time period, I volunteered for the venue cup. And slowly my roles changed. So in the next year, I all of a sudden I was she's mostly doing I don't remember what I did. The second year, the third year, I got into the media booth. And so then I was up with TSN, the star I was with all these like major groups. And I was handing out stats as they were coming in and it was fast paced, it was moving. That's the stuff I had always envisioned and doing and but that all changed. And then And then the fourth year, I hit the Golden Nugget in my head is I worked for TSN. And so I was I was doing all these things for TSN. I remember one story they were announcing and the guy like kind of went like this and he knocked his coffee over. And he's on the air and I'm like running and I'm like trying to dive underneath of it everything like that. Of like, kinda like was that sound? God was that fun, right? Like, and, and I mean, I got to know all the I got to know all the TSN guys. And then in the next year when I went to grad school, they went and did the youth sports hockey cup. And so then I saw them all again. But this time I was responsible for showing them around everywhere and making sure they were in it because they requested. But it was those kinds of things that like that was my kind of my next level is I started to get involved. I started to do I did Wrestling Championships and then I did an internship. And when I did an internship at Brock that was that experiential learning, man does that ever open up? Right and I talked about hockey to that point. But this time we thought we got into soccer, right and that's what I was trying to link soccer club and we were the only professional club in Toronto at that time Toronto FC was there was rumors that they were starting to come around. They're gonna make an announcement but this was the club they played in the North American wildly. We played the Dominican Republic all over the whitecaps were there and they moved over into the toward Toronto FC and MLS now. So there was this it was this. It was pretty cool. We played in a 5000 seat arena. And why why I think that's always important to point out is that hockey players hate soccer players and they'd rather watch paint dry than sometimes watch a soccer game. But I looked at it a little differently. And I I looked at as an opportunity to grow and use the internship and that experiential component to understand how businesses and sport are run. They're all the same. I mean, the the basis is all the same. It's the nuances of the game that change. And so for me when I was I was doing that I was I was doing everything from ticket sales corporate sponsorship.
In fact, I was giving out Timbits to kids in the stands, I was doing merchandise sales, I did everything in anything. And, and for me that actually plays a major role in what I do now. Because I teach marketing a sponsorship course and I can go, Hey, this is what I did. This is what worked this what didn't work. Hey, you know, if you want to get into sponsorships, you have to be able to do cold calls with a cold call, what does that look like, right, and some of those different elements and bring them into that, that world. And I try to make it experiential, like I do, I went through it because and I always say this to students, I try to get as many people to come in, or I take them somewhere, or I expose them, or have them work with organizations for me, because I can sit up the top of the room, and I can lecture for hours on end. There's no issue with that. But to give that lecture validity, I always think in sport and recreation, it makes a big difference when you can give that experiential learning component to it. And so for me growing the going through that big next step for me was four years of, of getting that smart management degree.
Stuart Murray 36:14
Wow, that's amazing. I want to keep going on your journey, because it's, it's very, very interesting. But I'm curious, because you mentioned experiential learning a few times as being this really powerful seed or place of learning. Why is that? In your opinion, why is that experiential learning so powerful?
Dr. Jon Edwards 36:35
Because I think we get so fixed on textbook definitions that we forget to teach the reality of the textbook, right, like or the reality of life in the context of the textbook. So, I mean, we can make up these definitions, or we can have these theoretical premises, and I'm all for that. But if we don't understand how that's applied in real life, then the students are basically simply regurgitating information. And for me, the applicable the application in the real world is what makes the value for the student. So if, you know, for example, students who take my HR class, one of the things that I do is, you know, I teach them from a management side. So I'm a manager, this is how I'm going to deal with, you know, my employees, right, in a sport called sport, recreation Canada, but then I teach them from I'm trying to get a job, right? And so what did that look like? And the, and one of the best way that I can always think about that is, is one of the assignments is they have to do an interview. But they have to do two interviews, because the first interview, they gave their resume their cover letter and a job description to someone else, that other person crafted questions and treated it like they were a manager of that organization, and then ask them so then, so then they go back, and we record it, we video, record it. And so then they look at it, and they go, Okay, this is what I did, I was twirling my hair, I was click, the big one is clicking pants, you don't realize you're clicking a pen in an interview and, and they always do that. But then on the flip side of it, I give them the opportunity, which a lot of them have never never even come close to experiences, you run the interview. What do you do? How's the room setup? What are you trying to do? What are you trying to accomplish? How are you evaluating the questions? What are you looking for? When you're creating, creating the questions? To me, those are skill sets that sometimes get often overlooked. And, and but they can be applied within what we're teaching. And so and I think those are that's, that's for me why, you know, experiential learning is really important because it takes the the in class stuff and puts it into the real world.
Stuart Murray 38:57
I love that as a project, John, the idea of, of having them be interviewed, but also flipping that and going the other way, and really practicing how they hold space and how they show up. And you know, there's so much value in that. Oftentimes, we we see ourselves so powerless or not influential and you know, something like that could really trigger somebody's like, wow, based on how I show up based on how I ask questions based on how I hold the space, it influences the outcome entirely, which is a tremendously powerful thing. And, you know, I go back to listening to what you're saying what comes up, it's like, the idea of trying to teach swimming on a PowerPoint. You know what, maybe, maybe, maybe you start there very briefly, but one that the student will be pretty disengaged, very fast and two, you can throw them in the deep end and getting the lifeguard to come fix it.
Dr. Jon Edwards 39:54
Well, I mean, I taught I taught golf for a number of years in in Edmondton. And, and we would start off with the first three, before we even hit the driving range is like we would sit there and we would go over, you know, PGA history of golf, and then we the mechanics of the swing the, the, you know, the shifting of the hips, the power transfers and all that, but at the end of the day, you know, that's nice, but now we got it now we actually have to go sit again. I mean, you can only watch so much video of that, and, and try to be able to apply it. But as soon as we went there, then we we brought in that scope and away they went.
Stuart Murray 40:34
You know, totally. So after that really interesting series of experiences, I got that image of you cleaning up that coffee guy live on the air. I've been in some live events, and I know the intensity of what that what those rooms feel like when that's going on. After you did that. And you were in your graduate program. What were the next steps for you?
Dr. Jon Edwards 40:56
Well, I mean, I want to go back because I said there's always important people, though, there's always two important people. And then the second one I met in my third year, well, I didn't I knew from before I was in that program, but I really got to know her in my third year, Dr. Lucy evil Actually, she's the dean of Human Kinetics at the University of Ottawa. Now, I always speak incredibly, highly of her because at the time, I did something unique in university. When you get to your your final year, you can either do an internship or an honors thesis. I did both. And so I did both at the same time. And I was doing the honors thesis as well. And we were looking at shit at the time. The big question was should NHL players play in the Olympics? I think that's been solved right now, but, but we wanted to see people's perceptions of of that. And so we did a survey, and we did a bunch of interviews and things like that. So. But at that time I met, I met Dr. Tebow. And she, she said, You know, there's a place in Alberta, University of Alberta that there's money available. And I never nearly knew what grad school was all about. And then Okay, so there's money available? And she's like, Well, yeah, they basically fund your, your, your master's degree, and as like, okay. And she says, it's looking at provincial sport organizations and the relationship with the government. And I said, Well, I'm not doing anything. No, I didn't say that. But I said, Well, this is really, really interesting. And, and I really liked this, and I think I'm good at it. And there's nothing that that that, you know, is going to hurt me from, you know, where I'm at, like, getting a master's is only going to make it better for me and remove that almost glass ceiling, or that point, right. Or, maybe or, or, you know, that kind of area. And so, for me, it was just like, this is a no brainer, so I'll go to Dilbert. And I'll do this. And boy, was that ever eye opening. And it was an eye opening in the fact that I moved to Alberta, that's I, that's not the issue. It was, it was eye opening in that I fully immerse myself in academics. And I kind of pulled back on all the kind of like, practical stuff that I had been working so much on like, right and, and, and it became a new balance for me. And also, when I went out there, I got in a car accident, too. That didn't help but but that change. It didn't it didn't say to him, it didn't sound or anything. It just it made me self reflect a lot of times to say, how can I make a project practical, and not change my trajectory, because I spent less time and I still to this day, spend less time always on the theory, but more on practical ideas. If I want to follow to do a project, I'm going to go and ask the coaching Association Canada. Does this make sense? If I do this project? What will you guys get out of it? Like if if if I'm saying looking at motivations of coaches? Well that they're like, Yeah, we want to know that, right? That'll help inform our decisions, right. So in practical sense, so that kind of changed, where I was how I did research. It got me and it got me happy with. It got me excited to do research. And, you know, it was it's a lot of fun. I still do the theory stuff. I still publish and you do need to do that from an academic. But But I really do spend a lot more time with practical sides of things and making that impact that way.
Stuart Murray 44:53
Yeah, it's nice being able to have that pragmatic applicability and in working In that space, specially, you know, the reason why you got into sport was because there was a practical application to that there was this really tangible piece. And it's, it's easy in academics to have that become really abstract and you know, you publish these things, and then they get cited from other academics. But that's kind of where it stays and lives in the realm of academia.
Dr. Jon Edwards 45:21
The other big thing that I did, which then changed everything to is, is I got into coaching. So I removed I transitioned out of being a player, which I did, I mean, I did that back in high school, but it got me back involved. When I moved to Edmonton. I started coaching again, and I have a real passion for it. And to this day, now I, I do things for the coaching Association in Canada, I'm president of coaching New Brunswick, coaching is a very big part of my life. But that was really the starting point off for that coaching trajectory.
Stuart Murray 45:55
Very interesting. Could you share a little bit more about your experiencing your experiences in coaching?
Dr. Jon Edwards 46:05
Politics. But, yeah, so coaching, coaching was interesting, because it, it teaches you it well, at least it taught me how to articulate myself, to a group of kids or a group of people, and be able to explain things and understand how drills go and things like that. It also brought back brought a love a new love a different kind of love for sport that I have. I mean, one of the best things that it's still to this day is my favorite thing to always see, whether it's in teaching or in coaching is watching a player and athlete of be able to execute something that they've worked really hard on, and seeing them do it in a game and they go, it worked, right, I love seeing that. It's the same in in, when I teach someone and they go from first year to graduating and then seeing him get that job. And for me, that's, that becomes the true true point of success for me. And sometimes you know, you there's little bumps on the road, and parents don't get in there and things like that, but to see them execute and in what it also started to change my idea of is it's not about W's anymore. And you can apply that in any real life situation. It's about development. But what but more importantly, is what does development mean. And I always use this analogy with organizations, because sometimes they get lost in it. And sometimes, and also, sometimes teachers get lost in and they always just looking at the outcomes or you know, it's an A or a B, or it's a 90 year, but you're forgetting there's a number of other factors that go along with it. And I always said to, I said, you know, at the end of at the end of the season, we you evaluate the coaches and you tell them, you're good or bad, right and good or bad is defined by wins or losses. But is that really a true testament to how I coached? I mean, I could have been the worst team in the league. But I developed all my players from where they were at the beginning to where they are now. And as a result, they move up a level in September, right when they go to the tryout. So isn't that the true definition of development, I've taken those players to give them new skill sets worked on. I mean, I don't have one that who cares about that. But I've developed them to be better. So now they're up a level and that they develop. So I always told organizations you really shouldn't shouldn't interview me after a season interview me in October when you figured out where all my players land. And so the coaching all of a sudden just plays such a critical role. Everything I do COVID hit, I had been trained to do the national coaching certification program. And I had seen many examples over the years of them doing it online, apply the same principles. Now. It's not such a hard thing to go online now because I know how to do that. And they've done it. They've been doing it for years. And I just apply how they did it, how they got people engaged online, how they made it fun or things like that. And so all these things just interconnect now with everything that I do.
Stuart Murray 49:33
I love that John, particularly that emphasis on it's not about the W it's about the development. And I think again, you know, that translation to seeing that in life. You know that, you know, how often do we get blocked from even just trying something or getting messy or just diving into something because we're concerned about getting that W rather than just doing the thing for the sake of doing it and and knowing Yeah, if I fall on my face, that's part of it.
Dr. Jon Edwards 50:02
Yeah, absolutely. I always taught my I always taught my kids when I when I coach them. They say, Coach, I don't want I don't want to try that. I heard that all the time. I don't want to try that move. I don't want to try. Why not? When else are you going to do it? You got to try it to master it. Right? The big analogy that I ingrained into my daughter, kids in this is a hockey analogy. But good players practice what they do well, great players practice what they don't do well, and it's it's the model that I always live by. And it's the model that I teach my kids. So if you don't practice what you're not doing well, and you're always practicing, I can dribble through my legs, I could, you know, you know, I could take that wrist shot, but in the top corner, then you're going to be of course, you're good at it. You've already mastered that skill, Master stuff that you have, and then apply it in situations. So anyway, let's,
Stuart Murray 50:55
I love that. And it's interesting what comes up for me there, John, is this emphasis in education? In the last years, we've we've shifted the these ideas of fixed mindset versus growth mindset. And Carol Dweck, 's work and in different stuff around that, which applies very much to sport. But, you know, I so often see us teaching these things on PowerPoint is like, here's the here's what the fixed mindset looks like. And here's what the growth mindset looks like gonna say, again, sure, maybe that's great to help offer some articulation of this. But really, how do we think the goal is to get the kid in the growth mindset and to take the risks and to do these things, and I personally have had no better connection to that. Every time I think of growth mindset, I think of my experiences in sports. You think of every every tournament, I've lost every tough battle, the idea of putting all these things in throat it a long, grueling season just to lose in the finals.
Dr. Jon Edwards 51:53
Yeah, I mean, so on that note, I think what's important is that you see in education now, this mindset about failing, right, we don't fail people anymore, we don't, you know, give them a bad mark. And, to me, and this is not just me being like hard on this viewpoint, it's me being more realistic than anything. My teams did better when they failed. And, and they needed to fail to learn how to deal with failure, because at some point, you're going to deal with it, or you're going to deal with that bad mark. And what I see is when you start to see these transitions from high school to university, and you have these professors that are, you know, hard or things that you got away with, not get away with, but things that you did, or where you articulated things or didn't assignments, in high school, and they're not accepted in university, and you get your first C or you get your like a, and all of a sudden, your marks gonna, I see more and more kids not being able to respond to that, as opposed to if they had been exposed to these failures or things. Hey, listen, by the way, there's also these kids that are geniuses that are going to no matter what they do, they're going to do, they're going to do well, so I totally get that. But there's a lot of kids out there that have done really, really well and haven't failed, and failed. Failing teaches you a lot.
Stuart Murray 53:30
Totally man. And yeah, I guess perhaps it's a controversial opinion these days, it's like, but I don't, I also am not a fan of that everybody gets a ribbon, everybody, you know, nobody's going to fail, be it academics, be it sports, be it, whatever. And that's how we're going to keep people safe. And it's like that, what an illusion of that. Because that's just, it's not the reality of the world that we live in. Yeah. And it's just not the reality of how we grow and become better human beings. Life is messy, life is hard. We are going to fall on our face. And I love your advice to your to your daughter about that, you know, do the things that you're not good at, lean into the discomfort because that's where the real magic is going to happen.
Dr. Jon Edwards 54:13
Yeah, and you know what, it's funny, you use the word lean in and there's a there's a famous actually, Ted, it's not a famous TED talk. I just call it famous. But there's a famous TED talk because my supervisor did that. And it was it was on leadership. And it's it's the jail theory of leadership. And, and basically, it's starts off by saying, look at all the famous leaders in the world, good or bad, right? So you regardless of what we think Adolf Hitler was a leader, he was pretty good at getting people together. You know, all these different. You have Nelson Mandela was all the one thing that they all have in common. They all went to jail. And they all got clear on what they they were going to do as they move forward. And so what the concept that he brings forward is when they had that clarity in that jail, so And he's also not saying everybody should go to jail if you want to be a leader, but But he, what he's saying is, once they got clear on who they were, they could lean into what they they believe in, in those values. And it's that same thing is if students get clear on what they value, what their morals are, where they want to go, how they're going to get there, then they're going to lean in and have that same, same passion.
Stuart Murray 55:38
Wow, that's a lesson for the ages. I think it's incredibly powerful. And I think that's perhaps again, where we we may fall short in traditional education is, is the lack of emphasis on values, and getting kids connected with that intuitive space within themselves. Yeah, that place where they know, you know, and it's like, how powerful is it when somebody's standing in their truth, when somebody's standing in their authenticity, it's just, there's no words that need to be said in there. Because you see the power, they don't need to, I always I've often heard the comment or share this is, you know, somebody tells you when they're good, but you'll tell someone when they're great. Yeah, and there's this energy when somebody is authentic, when they're being, being kind embodying the values that that they believe in. Yeah, and I think genuinely, if that, rather than worrying about the social critique, or are all this stuff coming back, if we can really be honest and allow other people to be in touch with themselves, the world will be a better place, we don't need to shove our values and morality down each other's throats, we can just hold that space for for people to be able to find out what's true to them. And if they're really honest and feeling good in their space, I think it's a net positive for humanity. Absolutely. I'm curious about the role of a coach John, what qualities you know what qualities or values or principles make up a good coach?
Dr. Jon Edwards 57:13
There's a lot of research I've done on this. So I'll just summarize it into the most simplest terms, a coach is a teacher. And, and if a if you can teach, you can coach. And I think sometimes there's these misnomers, too is like, I was the best hockey player. When I was growing up, I scored six 660 goals in the season, I was the best player. Does that mean, I can coach? No. I mean, the best example of that is Wayne Gretzky, all time greatest hockey player ever to play. No one's ever coming close to any of his records. Right? It's scary, right? Kenny coach, though, I would probably argue he can't coach as well, because he's on a different level than everybody else. He thinks the game faster than everyone else, regardless of if he hasn't played in all those years. Right. And so he, so coaches have to recognize their audiences, they have to be able to communicate, and they have to, and they have to be able to teach, right? You can be a coach. At a younger level, I argue without the skill sets necessary to do it. Because you can always learn the skill sets, like the technical and technical sets, like how to kick a ball, how to throw the you can watch enough YouTube videos, and there's enough coaching education stuff, what you can't teach is your ability to communicate your ability to motivate your ability to connect. And those are the things that you have to kind of come in with them already predetermined. And, and for me, I've watched coaches that are extraordinary with younger kids, and I've watched kid coaches that are absolutely terrible, but you know, they're, they're an excellent coach. And the ones that are terrible, is not because they don't know the technical vision they do, that they don't know how to talk to a kid or they don't know how to, you know, motivate that kid or they're yelling at that kid, their approach is totally different. And so for me, language, communication, ability to to be a leader, all those types of things are those qualities that you need as a coach.
Stuart Murray 59:48
So being a leader, what makes a good leader then if I were to even hone in on that piece?
Dr. Jon Edwards 59:54
Now we're in the leadership. I mean, to be a good leader, you have to resonate with your audience. Right, and you have to be able to be able to communicate, you have to be able to motivate. I mean, there's all these textbook things lead by example. Um, you know, all those types of things, which I don't, I don't necessarily disagree. Leadership, though, is really about relationships in my mind. And being a good leader is being able to navigate relationships and develop relationships.
Stuart Murray 1:00:26
I love that, you know, being being this. Even in my youngest younger years, I remember, I would, I was pretty respectful and unkind person, but if I felt forced or coerced, or, or pushed into something, I had dug my heels in with everything I had. And yet, you know, I was very a highly motivated and influenced person when I was around people who inspired change, not forced or mandated change within me, I agree with you on that leadership piece. I'm curious, then to to bring it back to the team dynamics and how we can make, you know, solid functioning teams, what, what are the some of the components that make up a good team?
Dr. Jon Edwards 1:01:15
That go back to the same thing for the coaches is relationships for the teams, right? Like, you know, it's funny, it's, you know, we, my daughter has been with her team for six years. And and you talked to, you talk to everybody around the league and, and, you know, you they say, you know, we have this one player that's, quote, unquote, the bad apple, or though the one causing all the challenges and things like that. The uniqueness about Ella's team is that they all get along, they all share the ball, they all and they've done it for six years. I don't remember ever there being a fight on that team. Like, I don't remember, like I saw, okay, well, hey, what did she say to you? And what did she say? It's never been that in six years. And it's a unique, unique thing to see. So if I want to always take the analogy of what a team dynamic should look like, I think it's it's built on trust, it's built on relationships, it's built on accountability. And it's built on transparency and openness. You got to as a, as a team, you have to be open to criticism, it's not meaning that I hate you or anything like that, you just have to be open to that, that, that, you know, they're trying to help you. Right. And I think that's what ls t and I use LFC a lot, because because it's just watching it is just unbelievable, sometimes, is the cool thing about that team is anybody can have a bad day, but someone else is going to pick up and they're gonna be like, you know, what, you're having a bad day, I'm going to I'm going to, I'm going to, you know, do my part, but I just wanted you to know, I'm supporting you. Right, you'll, you'll get over this, you'll start making those shots, right? That's huge, right. And for for a 1314 year old to figure that out. And on those teams is pretty impressive for that group. And that's so I always like to use I you know, Ella's LS team as an example, because I don't think I've ever seen anything like it before.
Stuart Murray 1:03:26
It is so brilliant and must be interesting to observe that, you know, with your daughter and all the work that you're doing at a different levels, but to see that take place. And you mentioned these words like trust, accountability, honesty, like, man, these that we're in times where we really need to connect back to these kinds of things. And remember that regardless of the the sub teams, the bigger teams or this larger team that we're on, these are values that we need to get back to, because I don't think people aren't really out to get one another right is but we just get caught up in the nuance and the friction and all these things. And, and remember, we need to remember that there is more that connects us and there is that divides us and seeing a team function and just hearing you speak about that brings a lot of hope for me for not only young people, but but for humanity to know that, you know, teams are existing like this and that we can function even with our differences and bring our unique perspectives and opinions together to create a an environment that we can thrive in.
Dr. Jon Edwards 1:04:32
Yeah, and I mean, that's, that's a that's an even another great point is differences. Right? Like, you know, I had a guest speaker come in and, and they said, you know, when we go to hire somebody, we don't, you know, we don't want the person being the yes person. We want that person to be, you know, not disruptive, but to challenge us and challenge our way of thinking because Getting a yes person is really, really easy. Right? And, but getting the person to step up and add new creates these creates new ideas. It's innovation, right? It's why I didn't think of it that way. But what if we did this? Well, no one's ever done it this way, it gets out of those institutionalized norms that have been created and allows companies, organizations, people to grow. And to give back to that almost disruptive or differences in is something that I try to teach from a management perspective is, uh, you have to think about those things. And you have to respect them, because it's not that they're trying to push down. They're not trying to do they're just trying to provide alternative options, right, and alternative thoughts. And otherwise, if all of us just sat in a boardroom, we're all aside in the end, we all Yes, yes, yes. When you don't challenge it? How are we ever going to grow?
Stuart Murray 1:06:00
I agree, John. And I think perhaps we can relate on that through our experiences in sport. And then having that reflected and constantly reaffirm through life experiences was like, wow, if I'm honest hear about this. And maybe it's going to cause a little bit of a challenging conversation or a bit of friction here. But I can see that on the other side, there's a lot of value. And there's a lot of worth in these in these challenging conversations, because now we're even closer. Now we trust each other even more. And now there's a deeper connection in this team. And, yeah, time and time again, I've been blown away at leaning into those discomforts. Because I would say, I relate to that disrupter mentality. And I think there's so so much value in us showing up in our unique perspectives and, and honoring that rather than being scared or, you know, that we want social acceptance, right. And so it's kind of balancing social acceptance and fitting in versus being honest and authentic with them, too. Yeah. So say they're, you know, your daughter's team hasn't had much conflict, or challenges, which is wonderful. But, you know, that's, there's a lot of times where that's just not the reality in life. And so what problem solving strategies do you use or recommend to help manage conflict and change?
Dr. Jon Edwards 1:07:23
So I mean, I mean, that's the, the, my daughter's example is the, is the one side of the spectrum. And in my presidential side of the two associations, I, I spend a lot of time dealing with problems and, and conflicts and things like that, not so much the one organization but the other one, certainly, you know, it's everything you can think of, and, you know, from gym time to, like, I might, we didn't get enough gym, my daughter didn't get enough gym time, or, or, you know, we the coach said this, and they shouldn't have anything. So there's always, these always these conflict always exists in it, it doesn't go anywhere in hockey, or it doesn't go anywhere in sport, as well. And as a coach, you deal with conflict all the time, right. And for me, problem solving, there's a few things that I've really learned over the years. First, not to make knee jerk reactions to conflict, right. So as conflict arise, we tend to want to solve it right away. And I always take a step back. And, and I tried to now consciously look at all perspectives of the conflict. So I will, I'll you know, I'll dive into you know, if it's between two people, I'll talk to both people and my picking one side, right. So so that's, that's the first thing, or what would be the, the first thing would be to be proactive. That's the other one that I really tried to do is before for conflict arises is tried almost foreseen what's coming down the pipeline, then, and then if conflict does arise in my reaction, for my first and foremost, is really take a step back and find out all the info. There's too many times that I've made decisions that I don't know the whole truth, or the whole, both sides of that perspective, and probably didn't make the best decision and I need to take a step back. And if I were to just slow down a little bit right now, no one's gonna die in some of these decisions. Right. And so not in sport anyway, on at least I don't think so. I hope not. So, I mean, for me, that's, that's, you know, one of the the first the second thing that I, I tried to make sure as much as possible is to be transparent and transparent with all parties involved. Right? There's nothing worse than going into their conflict resolution proceeding or something like that. And be blindsided. And so for me, I always, I always look to make sure that there were transparent. Um, I hold people accountable for their actions. And, and then the the one other thing that and this always comes out that I've seen so commonly is you're talking with an individual, and they're starting to compare themselves to other individuals, I always try to rein that in, in conflicts and say, it's not about the other individual, I don't want to know about the other individual, I want to know about you, and why you made those decisions, this isn't about them, that there's something else this is you, right, and, and so for me, that's always writing some of those little nuances in on that side of things. And then the final thing is, for me is make sure you come up with a solution, and you do it in a timely manner. I've seen situations that go on and in sport where it feels like the conflict arose, it was a big thing, this organization's handling of but it's gone into the abyss, it's disappeared into this black hole. And we never found out anything, we can't learn or do anything about the situation. In the future, if we don't know what the outcome was, that's also to say that we have to be careful with the Privacy Act, and you know, some of those situations that we have to be very cognizant about, but the end of the day, we got to learn from these situations, right. And so for me, always being able to communicate back and have it done in a timely manner are just really important.
Stuart Murray 1:11:47
These are fantastic, fantastic tips, John. And I like that you bring that responsibility back. It's so easy that, you know, it's like that old saying, when you're pointing your finger, you've got three pointing back at you. And it's like, Oh, what is that? Again, it is to bring it back is that deferral of responsibility? Yeah. And perhaps that comes down from this person feeling like they're not enough a lack of self confidence, you know, wherever that comes from, but I think when we can bring it back, and I liked the idea, a lot of holding people accountable to their actions. And I'm somebody who's also really big and impro on doing that. But I imagine as if that's a way in a value in a principle in which you operate that you've also come into contact with those same people, particularly who may be feeling less competent in that moment, or more vulnerable. And holding somebody accountable in those moments can be quite challenging, because somebody's walls might go up, and they might not be able to truly listen to what you have to say. And so that conversation then doesn't become as effective or deep as it could be. And do you have any tips or thoughts on how to hold people accountable to their actions yet, create a space where they can hear what you're saying, without their walls coming up.
Dr. Jon Edwards 1:13:12
I don't know if I do it well enough, to be able to say, the first thing that always comes to mind is you have to be blunt, or you have to, you have to give them the reality and the truth of it. Right? Otherwise, if you sugarcoat it, or you, you kind of dabble around it, then you're not really solving the problem, you're you're lightening the impact or the to make an impact and hold somebody accountable. And I think those are, are things that, for me, that's the biggest one is you just have to, quote unquote, rip the band aid off, right? I have to tell him, you know, what, this isn't working. And we need to find out a different solution to how I think that's the probably the second part to it is once you've ripped that band aid off, I think then it becomes even more effective. If you can come back and you can brainstorm, you can come up with a solution. And you can work together that in a way I always find men's that relationship even though it probably really and honestly, it shouldn't affect the relationship. But it does, right. People take things personally, people they take, don't take it the way that it's intended. And so then they they get their backup, well. Yes, we're gonna call you out on this. But let's figure out a way to do it before it gets to a point where you fire you kick them out or something like that. Right? That's, that's the last resort. So But up until this point, what can we do to change it?
Stuart Murray 1:14:44
I like that. Yeah, a lot of times we'll avoid those conversations, but you know, allow our own boundaries, or the our boundaries to be trampled on or the organization to have a negative impact to it, rather than have those tough and challenging conversations that can allow us all to grow and I love Have that emphasis on? Okay, well, now that it's in the open, how do we move forward, together and one tool that I actually try and really make myself mindful of when I'm doing this, because I also still have a lot of work yet to do here. But one thing I try and do is to hold people to hold their actions accountable. And so I'm hard on actions but softer on the person. Yeah. And I think there's some value in that too, you know, it's like, I'm gonna call you out on that action. But that doesn't mean you're a liar, cheat or lazy person, right? It's, you know, that that action might not be so I think I found a lot of value in that one as well. Yeah, absolutely. I wanted to in one of our last conversations, we were talking about sport as a right versus as a privilege. And I can't let this conversation and without, without touching on, John, so I'd love to hear your, your thoughts on sport as a right and, versus a privilege?
Dr. Jon Edwards 1:16:06
Yeah, so sport and recreation, you know, when we look at that, from the broader things, it's a, it's about being active, being physically active, engaging, it's about, you know, there's social skills that you can develop, there's mental skills that you can develop, you know, there's lifelong skills you can develop. There's lifelong friendships, you can have, all those types of things. Were, for me, this whole idea of rights versus privilege, is looking at the evolution of the sport system. Right. So if I look at the evolution of the sport system, I, I coined the phrase that it's becoming professionalized at all levels. And so the first time you hear professionalized, most people think of well, they're paying their employee or they're paying their their athletes or they're, you're, it's becoming that pay to pay model. And to some degree, that's true. But what I tend to think about is that is that as it becomes more professionalized, the privileged are able to jump on board with that, and that the people that aren't as privileged, low socioeconomic status, I mean, there's a ton of different factors, accessibility opportunities, all those types of things. Don't have it anymore. And, and so what you do is, what's happening is, is you get this big status divide, right? And so you've got your high end status, they can get everything, right, I think of hockey, hockey is supposed to be this eight month a year thing, it's turned into 12 months, because juniors now got to play once he's done a season, he's got to now play, you know, on the spring team, and if they play on the spring team are more likely to make it onto the September team. So they're going to play on the spring team. But the spring team is going to travel all over New Brunswick, and every single weekend. And then when they're done, well, he's not quite at that level yet to make that team. So we're gonna go put them in and spend an extra $1,000 on, you know, skating training all through the summer, because we're gonna, he's the next, you know, Connor McDavid. Right, like, we know this, like, he's obviously just hasn't gotten, you know, we haven't gotten him enough. So by the time you look at it, I mean, they're spending 10s dopp kit parents to spend these 10s 1000s and it's the privilege that are doing it. It's not it's not someone else, the you know, the the average wage earners, the doing that. It's, it's the privilege that get the opportunity to do it. And so then there becomes this, this debate about is sport becoming too privileged? Is it becoming soul privilege that is not becoming accessible to Joe who just had it her her son just his son just turned? I don't know, you know, four years old and wants to play soccer. But the registration fee is 150. So the $50 and that doesn't seem like much. But if you put it into a bear context, that might mean a lot of money for somebody. Right, that like that, that could be a significant, so then does it is it their right to have access to this sport? Is it right to have access to their recreation, these recreation facilities and things like that? Um, or is it a privilege, right, and if they're not getting access, is that setting those kids back?
Stuart Murray 1:19:47
So I'll push you what is your take on that debate? John?
Dr. Jon Edwards 1:19:57
I I've been asked this question a lot and In I go at it in a bit of a neutral response. And and I go at it from a guy who understands the system and understands how these nonprofit organizations work within that system. Why go out in a little bit of a neutral? So I'm like, I'd be right in the middle, right, I think I think it needs to be accessible. But I do think there's, there's always going to be an element of privilege that goes along with it. And that's never going to go away. Where i, where i push government agencies and people to think about this is you have a nonprofit organization with a bunch of volunteer members that are trying to put on a program. You know, end of the day, do they have the knowledge and the skill set to make it equitable for everybody like to make it accessible for everyone? Or are they? And again, no offense? Is it mom and dad, that they needed someone as a board member, and just because they're in that sport, now, for the next three weeks, or next three years, they want to make sure that that's running, right. Like, it's, there's a knowledge factor that plays into account in all of this. And there's a record of an ability to recognize how that delivery model takes place, to be able to say, one way or another, and until more money and better management's infused in the system, that that, right, or that that ability to provide those opportunities will never exist. And that's so I don't, I don't know one way or I don't always go one way or another on it, I just present the the opportunities and the challenges that are existing, right. Like, there's no, there's no doubt in my mind that it should be accessible. But how do we make it accessible? And, and people always are like, they put it on the organization? But is that my question always is, is that really the organization's responsibility to make it accessible? Or is that the government who we pay taxes to? To offset some way to make that accessible for them?
Stuart Murray 1:22:15
Well, I agree with you, too, is, you know, we're not gonna willing to abolish you're gonna have to have massive restructuring of society, are these massive things to get rid of privilege? Or the you know, there? There's much deeper issues that wouldn't start with sport in order to address that. I fully agree. But let me ask you, then, who, whose role is that? And how can we increase access for those who may not have the privilege?
Dr. Jon Edwards 1:22:48
The I would normally like, I wouldn't normally say this. But um, my first my first initial thought, and I'll just be perfectly honest, I say the government. But then if I take a step back, I would probably rephrase it and say, not the only the government, it's everybody, right? It's because it requires the participant, it requires the parent, it requires the administrator prior to government act prior to corporations who are supporting it, to all buy into this mentality of, you know, make it accessible for everybody. Otherwise, you can put it on the government, but then it's just this like, top down, it's almost getting kind of driven down into the organization's throat, and they don't respond well to that. So I wouldn't say it's the government necessarily, I'd say they're one actor that needs to be but the rest of it all has to come from everybody unifying. It's a changing culture. And I think you've kind of hit on it. And you started talking about the change in society, but it's also changing culture, culture, a cultural mind shift change, that, you know, hey, you know, I know, you know, going to the pool is $5. Well, can we find some way to offset that in a different way that it's free? Right, and, you know, so people can swim or learn to swim? Right? I know, there's, there's great corporations out there like kids sport. There's the Canadian Tire, one, Jumpstart. I mean, and they're all trying to do their part. But I think there's more than that, that needs to be done.
Stuart Murray 1:24:33
Yeah, it I agree. It is a community and a team effort. I find the government could be better at collecting our tax dollars and dispersing that to the organizations or the not for profits or the different groups that can can help kind of, you know, have a more intentional direction, and who has maybe more experience and different things to be able to help move that forward. But I do see The tremendous value in that not only because I benefited as a child, but probably more so on the, on the side of privilege, because I had my parents taking me to hockey tournaments all over Atlantic Canada and beyond to, you know, every other weekend. So I experienced that privilege, but also know that the value in that for all people, and it's interesting, because I think the talk of even putting more tax dollars there is isn't perhaps a conversation that ought to be struck, and maybe we ought to advocate more for the power of sport in society, because of the value that can bring beyond the kid actually playing sport in and of themselves.
Dr. Jon Edwards 1:25:44
You know, and I think I think those are, I think those are right, like, I mean, you know, we, there's so many different things you can do with it that, like, you know, about the rights and the privilege, but you know, you can take, for example, you can take a team, and you can take them to a food bank, and they can pack boxes, and they can learn what that's like, right, and why they're doing it and things like that. I mean, there's those are, those are other elements that sometimes get overlooked with these teams. And, you know, the coach and I, over the last couple of years have always tried to do things like that. Right. And the kids are, are, again, this leadership program, right, and teaching leaders, you know, providing opportunities for the indigenous community understanding where and how we can we can coexist and provide opportunities for them. And I think that's, you know, that's one of the, you know, one of the things that I push for, for coaches is to take the average of coaching module, right? And, you know, sometimes I do get questions, oh, why would I take this, because you need to learn how to communicate, you need to learn and understand where they came from, and where they're, what their situation is, you can't talk to every every athlete in the same way, right. And that's one of the things is athlete centered focus is like the new coined term over the last number of years with coaching, and, and again, these are just things that some people are exposed to, and they know about and some people aren't. Right. And, and, you know, again, we try to provide as many opportunities for underrepresented groups and and we do our best on that side.
Stuart Murray 1:27:25
Yeah, well, that's important work, John. And I think to just remembering that if we invest whatever money we invest in to these things, be it with our tax dollars, or be it in the community through through fundraising efforts, or volunteer efforts, the impact that that can have on on creating a stronger society, be it through reducing impact on healthcare system, through, you know, I probably would have could have been in jail if it wasn't for sports. Juvenile, yeah, like I easily could have turned a different way there or, you know, just on on better, stronger cultural and organizations, from learning those those skills through sport. So I think those are important things to remember when we're considering how we move forward with with creating greater access to the sports. Yeah, absolutely. I've got one last question for you. But before I do, is there anywhere that people can, you know, follow the work you're doing? Or, you know, if they're interested in coaching? Or if they're interested in your research, or, or any of these things? Is there anywhere that you would direct people to check that stuff out?
Dr. Jon Edwards 1:28:40
You know, I actually don't have a website or anything like that. But I mean, if you are interested in reaching out to me, I have an open door policy I, if you want to, you know, shoot me off an email, I'd be happy to talk to you have to go over coffee. If COVID lets us anything like that. I mean, you didn't get a hold of me. Jonathan J, O, N A, th o n dot Edwards, Ed W AR d s, at U and v.ca. And I'd be happy to do that. Certainly, my my, my faculty page has some my articles that I've written on. It's not quite up to date at the moment. But I mean, certainly if you have more questions on coaching or organization since I always have an open door.
Stuart Murray 1:29:25
Fantastic. Thanks, John. And I'll make sure to link that email in the in the show notes so people can find that easily. And last question for you. What is your big, big vision? What is your big vision to help move humanity forward?
Dr. Jon Edwards 1:29:42
With a loaded question, but thinking about this, my big vision and I don't want to you know, I want to stay away from my cliche terms. Like, I want to I want world peace and I mean, I want everybody At night hands, I don't, you know, those are nice and and there's nothing wrong with those. But for me, my big vision is for people, I always think of the term of engaged. If you have a community that's engaged, you have a community that cares, then you're gonna have a happy community. Right? And, and as communities get engaged, and as people get engaged, and as organizations getting new opportunities for him, and for me, it's about, you know, for humanity, creating new opportunities, right, and it's thinking about it. And there's, you know, and knowing that, well, there's right and wrong, but not everything needs to have a negative to it, right? For example, if we're gonna go down these lines of being environmentally friendly. Make sense? Why are we fighting it? Like, why? Why do we need to fight it? Why can we just not get engaged to find solutions on to make this better? You know, why, you know, if I if I, if I want a happy community, why do I need to have two Basketball Association's in a population of 65,000? I don't, I just need one. But I need everybody to be engaged. So to make it the best of that ability. So for me, it's about humanity and vision. It's about I always think of the word engagement, right? Engage, lean in, goes back to the whole jail theory. I'm a big, big fan of that TED Talk. That's all. Like, I'm always about leaning, right? And regardless of if you're a leader, you're introverted, extroverted, whatever it is, everybody can make a difference.
Stuart Murray 1:31:43
I love it, John. It's been a pleasure talking to you. You've done and are still doing a tremendous amount of work to help move, sport and coaching forward in in really innovative and engaging ways for people of all ages. So thanks for the work you're doing. And thanks for coming on to talk.
Dr. Jon Edwards 1:32:02
Well, it's been great. I really enjoyed this talk. And it's been a lot of fun. Thanks very much.
Stuart Murray 1:32:15
I hope you enjoyed this episode with Dr. John Edwards. Once again, a big thank you to our sponsor, Karen Phytoplankton. You can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, Spotify or wherever you listen to your podcasts. And you can also find me on Facebook and YouTube at the connected movement. Thanks again and see you next Monday.