can going Beyond Sport change lives?

Thursday 7 October, 2010

I attended this conference Beyond Sport Summit, which brought together groups from all over the world to promote sports as a way to create positive social change.  Here are the award winners which were announced @ the event.  Jim Clancy of CNN hosted the event & featured some reports CNN had done on the winners:

The agenda contained a pre-summit which included many symposia, break out discussion groups, & workshops in 3 different strands:

  1. ideas & expertise exchange
  2. using sport to advance girls’ education
  3. sport’s role in urban communities

These appeared to contain a lot of the nuts & bolts “how to…” best practices that small non-profit sporting organizations need.  The day & 1/2 event I attended was very much a feel good event, designed to inspire & invigorate the global attendees to go back home & do great things.  I took 10+ pages of notes over the 1 1/2 days, so it’s not possible to summarize everything, but I’ll mention the top 20 highlights:

  • NHL President Gary Bettman brought the Stanley Cup to the opening luncheon.
  • A lasting legacy of Chicago’s Olympic bid is World Sport Chicago
  • London hosted the 1st summit last year-Chicago is again the 2nd City
  • Beyond Sport received 400 entries from 120 countries for its awards, which included cash grants of up to $50,000
  • Beyond Sport summits will break up next year to an American event in Denver & international event in South Africa
  • World Cup 2010 earned $1.6B, but ended up costing South Africa
  • Unicef, which is working together with the London 2012 Olympic committee, taught 26,000 children to swim in Bangladesh, which saves 1000’s of lives, since floods are a major menace there
  • 22K children die every day, which could be stopped
  • Tim Leiweke of AEG worldwide noted that only sports & music are able to break through cultural barriers unimpeded
  • Arthur Ashe was hailed as a hero, because even when he was afflicted from HIV/Aids, he wanted to help others as he suffered from it
  • Muhammad Ali’s wife Lonnie quoted her husband “Your service to others is the rent you pay on this Earth.”
  • Chicago Mayor Richard Daley on the Chicago Olympic bid:  “It was an adventure.  By extension, the Olympics will now have to go to the Middle East, Africa, & India.  The Olympics are all about money, not the Olympians & Paraolympians.”
  • 250K died in the earthquake in Haiti & 1.5M are still homeless
  • Daniel Varner of Think Detroit (which has depopulated from 2M to 800K) PAL noted that 80% of urban young men grow up without fathers, so coaches act as role models (“sports don’t build character-coaches do”)
  • Since Title IX was implemented in the US in 1972 when 1M women participated in sports, 12M now take part, but women comprise 51% of university students, but only 43% of athletes, so equality has not yet been reached
  • 15% of girls are now going to school in Namibia
  • In Colombia, of the 4000 surveyed girls who participate in sports, 98% go to school
  • changing the American educational system may be the biggest civil rights issue of this generation in the US
  • to promote these kinds of things, business partnerships are essential.  Ethan Zohn of Grassroots Soccer noted that when Sony had 50K World Cup tickets, they had to use 45 partners to distribute them
  • Surprisingly, the country that hosted the most jews after world war II was Albania because their Muslim creed led them to invite jews into their homes

my $.02-I am a huge advocate for sports because it affects many other parts of peoples lives.  I played basketball & football in junior high school, football in high school, lacrosse in college, & done sprint triathlons for the last 18 years.  Athletics have made almost every day better for me.  I can’t get going mentally until after I’ve had my endorphin rush physically.  Individually it teaches many great values:  hard work, discipline, perseverance, setting & achieving goals.  Being a teammate instills teamwork, understanding of roles, & leadership.  Competition teaches mutual respect, fairness, & resourcefulness.   The conference emphasized all of these points.  It blows my mind that a lot of the rest of the world suffers from malnutrition while 1 of America’s biggest problems is obesity.  Sports can & should be a vehicle to support change for good.

I’m also writing an article on how business, sport, & philanthropy should work together.  Look for it soon.

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