At Sport Court, using sport for child development and positive change is part of our mission. From building courts for families, to supporting competitive youth sports with USA Volleyball, to creating safe places to play through our Court 4 Communities program, we actively look for ways to generate change through sport.
Beyond Sport recognized our drive to promote positive change through sports and invited Sport Court to participate in its first ever 10 Round Table event. The event addressed critical challenges in using sport for development.
Sr. Director of Marketing, Brandi Connolly was asked to facilitate a round table conversation assessing ‘how can the sport industry leverage their influence to increase access to sport'. Actionable findings that the sports industry and organizations can use to help communities create change through sports emerged from the conversation.
“I was honored to be chosen to facilitate this panel. The key behind these events is to take a concept and move it towards an actionable plan. Participants believe we have laid out a framework that can make a difference in encouraging communities to create more access to sports,” remarked Brandi Connolly.
Overview of the Round Table Discussion: Leveraging Influence to Create Access to Sport
Today, there is an epidemic of sports programing and sports spaces loosing funding and priority in public budgets. The Round Table participants found it imperative to assure sports remain a priority of all communities, as sports unite and teach characteristics that help influence long-term employability and reduce crime. To do this buy-in must be created. We need buy-in from the community to know what sport and what space they need and buy-in from politicians, funders, and other investors on the return they seek on investment.
The main issue is that ‘buy-in’ has no framework and many politicians and funders don’t understand the important role sports play in community development. So how do we, as a group, change the perception of the public sector? How do we unite all groups involved to build a sustainable, community based program?
Gather Research: A panel of research studies must be conducted to build a replicable model for social change that can be facilitated by sports organizations. This model would teach organizations to identify how a community would benefit from sports and how to convene local politicians, community citizens, NGOs, corporate funders, athletes and sports teams to implement ‘deep’, long-lasting change in the community. The outcome of this research would be to identify the buy-in needed by each participant to deliver a meaningful community sport program.
Raise Awareness: It is the responsibility of the sports leaders (leagues, federations, NGBs) and their athletes to create a global campaign of awareness that speaks to the importance of sports. Leaders in the sports industry should harness their media power and produce a series of PSA’s emphasizing how community sports built their athletes and why sports are crucial to moving kids out of impoverished, urban communities.
Create a Curriculum: Programing partners are needed to create curriculums for schools that expose children to sports and use sports to teach important lessons on social and emotional matters.
Following these three steps will allow community members and funders to use sports to benefit the community while meeting investor needs. This results in a powerful tool for communities to use when trying to generate positive change and encourage childhood development.