Lou Marsh Award
When Damian Warner accepted the 2021 Lou Marsh Award, presented annually by the Toronto Star to Canada’s best athlete, he called it “a great honour” and “a testament to the team around me.” Warner also included a caveat regarding the name on the trophy: “I think he definitely said some things that were not aligned with Canadian values, even at the time they were said. … It would be fitting after the investigation I believe is taking place, to name the award after someone that all Canadians can get behind.”
Lou Marsh was a journalist and Toronto Star sports editor from 1921 to 1936. He was also an unapologetic racist, as Prof. Janice Forsyth ( theconversation.com/the-lou-marsh-trophy-builds-on-a-racist-legacytainting-the-awards-meaning-154322) and Morgan Campbell ( cbc.ca/ sports/opinion-lou-marsh-trophy-1.6273039) reveal in recent editorials. Marsh’s racist past was first exposed by Bruce Kidd in 1983 (“In
Defence of Tom Longboat,” Sport and Society, 16:4). However, the Toronto Star rejected all requests to have Marsh’s name removed, right up until the night before the 2021 recipient was named. At that late hour, they falsely referred to a committee looking into changing the name, thus avoiding the embarrassing possibility of an athlete turning down their award. The Toronto Star has since rewritten this press release and is reportedly in the process of following through on their promise.
I am calling on the athletics community in Canada to contact the Toronto Star and demand that the 2022 award be named “after someone that all Canadians can get behind.” Please email email@example.com and include your full name, address and phone number.