Athletes, coaches and ambassadors came together for a dignity session during Lillehammer 2016 Youth Olympic Games in Norway.
The event was an open session where anyone accredited to Håkons Hall could participate. All around the hall, there were different activities focusing on skills development, well-being, social lifestyle where the youth in collaboration would learn from each other across borders, cultures, languages and sports disciplines.
Crown Prince Haakon introduced the topic “Dignity in Sports” by stating that being a role model is not something reserved for the athlete. It also goes for the coach, the volunteer and the administrator. All of us can influence other people’s lives by how we treat one another. How can we make each other good?
The audience was asked to write down what they would do in their future to lift up other people, and they participated in defining the word “dignity.
Anette Sagen, a famous Norwegian ski jumper and Ambassador, shared her dignity story about when she and other female ski jumpers were refused to jump in the biggest venue – because they were women. She told about how the support from others gave her strength.
Another Ambassador is Todd Nichols, a five time Paralympics participant on the Canadian Sledge Ice Hockey team. He shared his story about getting a sack of letters wishing him well during a hospital stay. Eric Mitchell, a Canadian ski-jumper, was also present to tell how he experienced the homophobic comments he heard from team mates who did not know he was gay. Mitchell later established the One Team initiative with the Canadian Olympic Committee. The initiative wishes to express that athletes should be judged by their performance on the field of play and their character as people, not for who they love or how they identify.
The message of dignity also applies to sportsmanship: We all have the opportunity to increase each other’s feeling of dignity by treating each other with respect, by supporting one another, by praising your teammates or you competitor’s achievements. It doesn’t only give them the feeling of dignity, but it also strengthens the dignity of the one who gives the praise.
Above: Canadian ski jumper Eric Mitchell’s answer to homophobia was to create the One Team initiative. Photo: Global Dignity