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Sportsnet joins forces with FCAD's GXSLab

Sportsnet invests $100,000 through The Sportsnet Diversity and Gender Equity Initiative to empower students from diverse backgrounds
February 04, 2020

Leaders from Rogers Media joined leaders from Ryerson University to announce a sponsorship-mentorship initiative, involving a $100,000 investment from Sportsnet, designed to promote diversity and inclusion in sports media. The scholarships will be awarded to two high-performing third-year students and two students entering the program who identify as a woman and/or a member of an equity-seeking group, in addition to year-round diversity workshops at the university’s Global Experience Sport Lab (GXSLab). 

Students from diverse backgrounds are encouraged to apply to the program, which will be available in the Fall of 2020. Scholarship recipients will have access to mentoring from Rogers’ Sportsnet employees, as well as learning and supplementary programming related to fostering a culture of diversity in the workplace.

The press conference, held in The Catalyst, was attended by over 40 special guests from Sportsnet, FCAD faculty, staff and Sport Media students. Members of the media also attended to cover the event, including Sportsnet, Omni and City-TV News. Sportsnet anchors and the press conference emcees, Carly Agro and Eric Thomas, opened the presentation by sharing personal stories of how they broke into the sports media industry. Carly said that being yourself is the key to opening the doors of opportunity. And as a father with a young daughter, Eric added that he wanted these same doors opened for her also.


GXS Group Shot

(L to R) Eric Thomas; Laurel Walzak, Director, GXSLab and Assistant Professor of Sport Media at FCAD; Bart Yabsley, president of Sportsnet; Ryerson President Mohamed Lachemi; Sports Media student Natasha Kis-Toth; FCAD Dean Charles Falzon and Carly Agro 


Laurel Walzak speaks to the importance of gender diversity in sport media

On the panel was Bart Yabsley, president of Sportsnet; Ryerson President Mohamed Lachemi; FCAD Dean Charles Falzon; Laurel Walzak, Director, GXSLab and Assistant Professor of Sport Media at FCAD; and Sports Media student Natasha Kis-Toth. 

Bart spoke first and said that Sportsnet was dedicated to cultivating a new generation of media professionals that reflects Canada’s diversity. He added that mirroring the audience was important to his organization and that this scholarship embodies their corporate core values. 

Next, Laurel spoke of how FCAD is leading the way: “We foster a community for women and men to work together and engage in discussions related to gender equity and diversity in sport media. Top industry leaders are committed to this change, so it’s time to mobilize.”

Charles then shared his pride and excitement for this great opportunity saying that through important partnerships like this, FCAD is able to provide a unique program that is centered on diversity and inclusion. He added that this was a transitional moment that will change society, and he enthusiastically encouraged the leaders in the room to keep moving forward.

Charles said: "This was a transitional moment that will change society"


Ryerson President Mohamed Lachemi is interviewed by the media

Current sport media student Natasha, stood at the podium surrounded by her peers. Speaking on behalf of her fellow students, she said that it was time to break the barriers because “the work we’re doing here is making a difference.” 

The half-hour presentation ended with Mohamed reiterating that Ryerson is about diversity, innovation and changing the status quo. He also pointed out that while most people are aware that soccer is the most popular game in the world, with big names like Messi, Ronaldo and Maradona, the player with the most international goals is Canadian soccer captain Christine Sinclair. He added that compared to her male counterparts, Christine is paid less and receives less recognition despite her achievements, because of her gender. He then said that, “Sport brings us together, and that allows us to enjoy each other. This [scholarship] is a transformational gift that will change lives.” 

Ultimately, this unique partnership and scholarship further illustrates FCAD’s commitment to providing students with opportunities and skills that prepare them for today’s challenges and the courage to disrupt the status quo. 

Sportsnet, RTA School of Media and FCAD have had a long and strong relationship. In 2013 Sportsnet contributed a $750,000 capital investment to help launch the highly successful RTA Sport Media Program and build the state-of-the-art Sportsnet RTA Production Centre in the Mattamy Athletic Centre, formerly known as Maple Leaf Gardens. Sportsnet also sponsors a scholarship for Sport Media students with high academic achievement. 

Read the associated press release, external link, opens in new window

FCAD at Ryerson University

Ryerson FCAD is an impactful education hub and innovation ecosystem at the heart of Canada's media, design and creative industries. It is grounded in Canadian values but with a truly international perspective and scope. It is home to many of Canada's top schools and programs in their field and recognized as a leading institution around the world.

Media contact:

Sarah Twomey
FCAD at Ryerson University
Manager, Marketing and Communications