It has been 4 weeks since the Sport & Social Club made the difficult decision to shut down our operations, a few days before being mandated to do so.
May 2020, should be a celebration of the start of my 25th year of getting people off the couch, playing and making real-life social connections. The Sport & Social Club has been providing an incredibly beneficial physical and mental health service and has impacted the lives of over 1.3 million participants in a positive way since May 1996.
Instead of celebrating, we are shut down. The majority of my team are unemployed and our SSC members are sitting on couches, unable to actively play and engage in real-life social connections. The uncertainty of how long this new reality of physical distancing will carry on for is unsettling and scary.
I am struggling and I am certain I am not alone. I share this to be real, to be vulnerable and to hopefully help other small business owners (bars, restaurants, event companies etc) realize we are not alone in facing these challenges. I also share this to ask for help.
Many small businesses like mine are struggling and we need help to survive this. Wage subsidies while helpful for a business that has slowed down, don’t really help a business that has been mandated to shut down and is unable to generate revenues. We have just given thousands of credits to our members who were playing in our winter season and had their experience cut short. We have members who registered to play in spring/summer leagues, who are now dealing with their own personal struggles asking us for refunds. Like airlines, ticketing companies, event organizations and many other sports league operators we are only able to provide credits. We have real expenses (office rent, phones, insurance, automobile leases, pre-paid facility expenses etc) that have not gone away and there is no government assistance for these.
I have always taken pride in making my own way as an entrepreneur, creating employment opportunities for others and creating a positive service and experience for our customers. I have been struggling with how to ‘pivot’ given the very nature of our organization is about bringing people together for social active gatherings, yet I remain open-minded. I am now asking for help.
I need help to generate awareness and connections with various levels of government (federal, provincial and municipal) to ask that they do more to help organizations like the Sport & Social Club, (we don’t have quite the same clout as airlines). I am also open to ideas for ways to ‘pivot’.
In order for us to survive this and be able to rebuild to get people playing again in the future, we need help now.
Our society will need physical activity and real-life social connections when this crisis ends. I want the Sport & Social Club to be able to be around to help provide our services for people to keep playing!