Athlete Rep Spotlight: Rob Law – Lawn Bowls

It’s Our Turn, AthletesCAN’s new marketing campaign focuses on the stories of athlete leaders across the 68 sports eligible for AthletesCAN membership. The campaign highlights a pivotal moment for a new era in sport governance, underlining the athlete representatives’ respective journeys into the athlete advocacy movement both in their careers and within their National Sport Organizations (NSOs).

Each week, AthletesCAN profiles a key athlete leader among its membership, highlighting how athlete representation has played a significant role in their career and within their National Sport Organization.

Rob Law

Name: Rob Law
Sport: Lawn Bowls
Position / Event: Fours and Triples
National team tenure: 2018 – Present
Hometown: Winnipeg, Man.

How did you first hear about and get involved in athlete advocacy?

I started at Forum in I want to say 2019. That was the last in-person one before COVID, I was recently nominated or elected as the athlete rep for the Bowls team and then was given the opportunity to go down to Toronto and really got involved in the athlete advocacy side of things. Sitting in Forum, that was a particularly inspiring moment for me and a pivotal moment. So I sat in that and that was what inspired me to apply to Board of AthletesCAN. But that first forum was, what opened my eyes to what athlete activism can be and what it can accomplish.

Why is it important for the Canadian Sport System to prioritize an athlete-centred experience?

Athletes are the heart of the sport system or any sport system. Without athletes, the system is really not there to serve anyone. And that goes from grassroots right up to our high-performance level. So prioritizing that athlete experience and making sure that the athletes are heard is so essential to making sure that the system is effective in serving who it was designed for.

How have you used your athlete voice on behalf of your peers and how has it impacted your sport journey?

There are probably two ways to approach this on a day-to-day level. I think the athletes can provide so much more than just the athlete perspective but can provide real value. And so I’m often involved in discussions and problems revolving around strategy, the kind of NSOs in general, but then also our high-performance program. And it really gives you a whole new perspective of what the athletes journey is and what the bigger picture is. So I’ve been involved in strategic planning and using your voice in maybe a wider setting.

I’ve also been involved in scenarios through AthletesCAN where you had to speak up in a lot of room and in a medium or a hostile environment. And in that case it’s really shaped the confidence as an athlete to know what we stand for and our principles and then apply those. It gives you a new sense of kind of purpose behind that and a new sense to just when you go out and play what it means to play for your country and kind of play the sport and be a part of that sports system.

What is your favourite memory being an Athlete Rep / being involved in athlete advocacy? 

Certainly my maybe most memorable, it certainly wasn’t my favourite memory at the moment, but was definitely the Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton AGM that took place in 2022. I want to say that was the one that made CBC eventually and was quite controversial at the time. But that was a moment where I felt like in my sport journey I had never really witnessed someone kind of try and take advantage of athletes so blatantly or what felt like so blatantly. And I won’t kind of go into or kind of speculate on intentions behind that, but to watch that and to feel like there was a real injustice happening in the room and then to be able to stand up and use the experience I had learned in my own athlete advocacy through my work with AthletesCAN to be able to stand up and make a difference in that meeting was an experience and a thrill that I will never forget for sure.

What have you learned about being a leader in your sport?

I think the biggest thing for me is looking at the whole picture. Understanding that sport is is not just for me, it’s not just for you, it’s for everyone. And the collective we, it’s about building this system that serves everyone and doesn’t leave anyone behind. It’s kind of shaped how I view sports, how I view our own program.

Why should your peers join AthletesCAN and/or get more involved in the leadership of their National Sport Organization?

I think AthletesCAN is a great way to just build confidence. And at the end of the day, your sport journey is what you make of it. So getting involved in your interest helps you guide that. I always take the opinion that you really can’t complain about something unless you’ve tried to try to help with it. Getting involved in those conversations, being an active part of your Athletes Council or Athlete Committee or just volunteer committees, etc., it just shapes how you can look at your sport, the experience you have and it makes it so much richer. AthletesCAN is the perfect way to build the confidence, find the skills, the resources to make sure that your athlete experience is exactly what you want it to be at the end of the day.