The following contribution is from another author.
Sports have an incomparable power to unite people. It forges connections not just within one place, but on a national to a global scale. Fans’ genuine love for sport breaks down barriers such as social status and race and temporarily sets aside bigger differences like sociopolitical stances. But even if the latter is just forgotten for the meantime for the sake of cheering for their favorite teams, or spotting someone who has also shopped at the panthers shop, or the shop for whoever a person’s team is, sports can still pave a way for these divided people to permanently unite.
Sports have already proven how much influence they have in empowering the youth and cause a ripple of change. It’s more than just powerful advertising and famous athletes photographed by professional sports photographers. The industry has done various charity work, campaigned for good health and fitness, generated jobs, and gave hope to sick children, among many other remarkable achievements. This promoted compassion and empathy, driving many people to unite despite their differences, rather than widen their gap further.
Athletes are Role Models
All children have someone they look up to besides their parents, and it’s commonly an athlete they admire. Children who have role models are more likely to exhibit good behavior as they follow the examples of their favorites. In turn, athletes who are regarded as role models are more inspired to set the best example they can provide.
This effect on the youth has led to the founding of Sport at the Service of Humanity’s (SSH) “Young Leaders Mentoring Program” in 2018. It aims to shape today’s youth as future role models and leaders in the sports industry. Prince Feisal Al Hussein of Jordan is one of its inaugural global mentors, along with SSH’s young leader, Angelina Nadai, who is also a part of the Olympic Refugee Team.
But long before the program was launched, Prince Feisal has already been active in using sports to empower the youth. In 2007, he started “Peace Through Sport,” an act that used sport-based programs to advocate for social change and peaceful communities. Peace Through Sport soon evolved into “Generations for Peace,” a nonprofit organization engaging the youth to sport-based games.
Sports Promote Health and Fitness
As of 2012, over one-third of children are overweight and obese, according to the U.S.’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As a way to combat unhealthy weight, the NFL Play 60 launched a campaign to encourage children to be more active. MLB also made a move and established their “Reviving Ball in Inner Cities” program, which teaches baseball and softball to less fortunate children.
Other than physical fitness, the youth’s psychological and sociological well-being are also uplifted by sports. Generations for Peace also tackles issues of conflict and violence in local communities, and they have already helped over 524,000 children and adults. GFP also uses arts, dialogue, advocacy, and empowerment activities to aid in transforming the lives children and adults exposed to conflict.
Sports Give Hope
Sports leagues have not just given hope to the disadvantaged, but also to the bullied and sick children. In 2013, Northwestern University’s athletic department started the anti-bullying campaign ROARR, or “Reach Out and Reinforce Respect,” in partnership with their community-relations team.
Boston Bruins hockey players visited a local children’s hospital on the Halloween of 2014 while dressed up as Frozen characters to cheer up the patients. Then there’s also the Make-A-Wish Foundation, who has been working with many sports teams and athletes to grant wishes of young sports fans with life-threatening illnesses. They recently just helped Miles Scott, a five-year-old leukemia patient becomes “Batkid” for a day, “saving” San Fransisco from the bad guys with the Giants. Scott was later invited to throw out the first pitch on Opening Day.
As one child becomes empowered through sports, a community follows, generating a ripple effect. Whether you’re a young athlete or just a sports fan, keep using your passion in sports to empower yourself and create a positive impact on your environment.
I wish I had more time for sports…
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