During halftime of a Sunday Night Football game Oct. 13 between the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins, sportscaster Bob Costas used his on-air time to speak about the demeaning nature of the nickname “Redskins,” calling it an “insult” and a “slur” to the Native American population.
Although Costas’ argument is one that has been heard before, considering the gravity of the situation, he made the statement that it was an important topic that he wanted to discuss here and now. Between topics like inappropriate nicknames, openly gay athletes, player safety and much more, it’s becoming more and more obvious that sport means more to the world than just wins and losses.
With that in mind, the Drexel University Sport Management Student Union is presenting the first annual Sport For Social Change Conference. The event, which will be held Oct. 25 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the James E. Marks Intercultural Center, will consist of five guest speakers and light refreshments over the course of the day.
“The goal for the conference is to answer the question: ‘How can we move society forward in a positive direction via sports?’” Kevin Murray, vice president of SMTSU, said. “The inspiration for this conference comes from the desire of the SMTSU to promote positive and meaningful conversation about the impact of sport in the societal realm.”
In order to project viewpoints on various controversial and relevant topics in sports, the lineup for the event will consist of Eric Zillmer, director of athletics at Drexel; Jim Britt of the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation; Eli Wolff of Brown University; Craig Cassey Jr. and Anna Aagenes of Go Athletes; and Patrick Hruby of Sports on Earth.
These topics will include athletes giving back and being role models; youth development in sports; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in sports; access to sports for disabled athletes; and safety issues in sports.
“We had actually thought about running this event last year, but we wanted to take our time and put together the best event we could,” Kevin Rossi, president of SMTSU, said. “It has been a lot of hard work for everyone involved but certainly one of the most rewarding experiences that [we have] had together as a group.”
SMTSU’s leadership group, along with the help of faculty adviser Ellen Staurowsky, was able to extend invitations and attract keynote speakers to the event.
Staurowsky, who is a professor in the sport management department, has 35 years of experience in higher education and has published numerous research papers on social problems and their potential solutions in sports, said that the conference was of a national caliber.
“Anyone who has an interest in how sport can be used as a vehicle to contribute positively to the social good will find something of interest in this conference,” she said.
The idea for this conference really spurred from a May 25 speaking event that featured “Survivor: Africa” winner Ethan Zohn hosted by the SMTSU and The Good Idea Fund. Zohn used his winnings from “Survivor” to begin Grassroot Soccer, a nonprofit that uses soccer as a vehicle to educate people in Africa about AIDS.
“The message that he passed along got us thinking about other ways that sports can help society progress,” Rossi said. “We wanted to continue on with that message of positive change and educate more people on the power of sports.”
The Sport For Social Change Conference is free to all attendees, and Drexel students are encouraged to stop by at any point during the day. Anybody who is interested in volunteering or learning more about the event can visit www.S4SCConference.blogspot.com.