The 2018 Laureus Summit: The State of Sport for Good

The first annual Laureus Foundation USA Summit, on the 100th birthday of Nelson Mandela, featured legendary athletes from all over the world, united by the power of sport

  • 9am, Wednesday, July 18th, 2018, the Conga Room at L.A. Live: The room is alive with anticipation and adrenaline. The athletes on hand— including multiple Olympic gold medalists, world champion rugby players, NBA and WNBA all-stars, and women’s soccer World Cup winners—have an impossibly diverse array of backgrounds and experiences. But they’re here for one reason: To celebrate the power of sport to unite people, across races, genders, and borders. What better way to honor the legacy of the man who famously said:

“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.”

—Nelson Mandela

  • The first panel, on Sport for Good LA, featured Tony LoRe of Youth Mentoring Connection, Nichol Whiteman of the Dodgers Foundation, and Allyson Felix—six-time Olympic gold medalist in track & field. The discussion not only included stories of impact for youth and local communities, but also emphasized the importance of collaboration, as well as data and metrics to measure outcomes.

“Youth development is not as simple as people like to think it is. It’s about being involved in the communities of Los Angeles, and directly, proactively, intentionally helping those kids become the best citizens they can be.”

“When we think about collaboration, we think about it from the same perspective—not only what type of work are they doing, but how are they measuring it? What does the data say? What are they’re outcomes? We don’t want a picture to be a picture, we truly want to understand who was that child in the picture; what was the event; how was the event impacting the kids on that particular day.”

“I think from a goals perspective, we have specific goals behind everything we do, and we like to partner with people who can tell us what their goals are.”

—Nichol Whiteman

  • The second panel was a discussion of Sport as a Global Language, featuring Dima Alardah (ESPN Sports Humanitarian Award recipient) of the Global Sports Mentoring Program, Cynthia Coredo (ESPN Sports Humanitarian Award recipient) of Boxgirls Kenya, and Vivian Puerta, Executive Director of the Colombianitos Foundation.

“It gives them hope, it gives them a sense of identity — that’s what sport does for these girls.”

—Cynthia Coredo

The first morning session ended with a discussion of the data surrounding The State of Sport for Good 2018, as well as a spoken-word poetry performance by two America SCORES Los Angeles participants—Jaiden and Jesús—who absolutely brought down the house.

  • Following the morning break, there were two more panels: First, Putting Women in the Lead, including 2018 Olympic gold medalist with the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team, Meghan Duggan; next a very candid panel on The Athlete Voice, featuring 1968 Olympian Dr. John Carlos, and 2016 Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad.

“I don’t care about applause. It’s not about me doing something special — I had an opportunity, and I made the most of it.

“You have an opportunity, too. I’d love to be the one applauding you, but it’s up to you to make the most of it first.”

—Dr. John Carlos

  • Two more panels rounded out the day: The Power of Collaboration, moderated by Jill Vialet (CEO & Founder of Playworks); and a look back at The Invictus Story—when South Africa’s national rugby team, backed newly elected president Nelson Mandela, overcame the odds to defeat the All-Blacks of New Zealand and claim the Rugby World Cup.

On the Invictus panel? None other than Sean Fitzpatrick, who was the team captain for New Zealand in that fateful 1995 final (now, Fitzpatrick serves as Laureus Academy Chairman), and Bryan Habana, who watched the game as a teenager, and later grew up to become perhaps the best rugby player in the history of South Africa (Habana also serves as a Laureus Ambassador).

Thanks very much to Laureus Foundation USA and ESPN for putting it together — not only was it inspirational, but also a great day for networking and building relationships with an international community committed to harnessing the power of sport for good.^DFG

Story by Bryan Kitch for the UpMetrics journal, Data For Good.

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Athlete, artist, writer. Content Marketing Manager at @cerego. Twitter: @bryankitch

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