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The Power of Sport - Part 1
It is now beyond any argument that engaging in a sports activity is no longer a matter of option; it is now an established and essential parameter while evaluating the health of any person and surrounding community. There are an equally large number of examples, which have demonstrated beyond any arguments that communities, which have regular engagement in sports, are more engaging, strong and cohesive. I am personally always excited when I see existing, or developing, connections between sports and communities. Below I have listed some of the connections, which come to my mind when it comes to usefulness of a stronger connection within sports and communities:
- Disengages the youth from violent and anti-social behavior which results in safer communities and
- lower crime rates
- Impacts the physical health and well-being of the entire community
- Enhances the employability and the consequential economic prosperity of youth
- Transforms families, uplifting their standard of living, improving lifestyles
- Leads to greater acceptance of racial and ethnic diversities in the community
- Communities, which are buzzing with sports activities attract higher real estate and rental values
THE HAT FUND, INC
“Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play.”-Mike Singletary
THE HAT FUND, INC
When we discuss ways to build the cohesive and developed community, the one advantage that sports will always enjoy over any other factor of development is that sports is a low-cost tool to achieve those goals. At a relative low cost, disparate and marginalized, even excluded, social groups and under-served youth can be brought together to play, bond over common values and build mutual trust and respect. Bonding over sports builds relationships that can last one’s lifetime and yet leave enough (oxygen) energy to be passed on to the next generation. There are innumerable examples of famous athletes and sports persons who have risen from very humble backgrounds because the community supported their zeal. Likewise, there are numerous communities in the country, which are positively enhanced, and blooming thanks to the support of the local sport professionals and activists.
American society is a pluralistic one and the principle of inclusivity is enshrined in every aspect of our citizenship. Therefore there is an open and equal opportunity for members from every culturally and linguistically diverse group or those from the lower economic strata of our community to join and participate in local sports organizations. Inclusivity helps sports organizations in several meaningful ways. Here are some of the reasons that come to my mind:
- Sport based inclusivity increases the in-house pool of players and the wealth bank of talent; thereby increasing the probability of one of them reaching the top-tier of a sport and bringing immense fame and glory to its alma mater.
- Inclusion brings diversity. Diversity brings its own unique set of skills and abilities thus enriching the competitiveness during sports training and game sessions.
- The diversity also provides members with the benefit of understanding and experiencing the nuances of multi - cultural interaction first-hand.
- Companies, which always like to increase market-share, will attach a greater value to their sponsorship funding when sponsoring sports organizations, which have a diverse, and inclusive membership profile.
- And ultimately, inclusivity strengthens the community because it leaves no one behind. (Which is all about welcoming with open arms strengthens the community because it leaves no one behind.)
“Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination.” -Nelson Mandela.
Right at our doorstep, is the example of Marcos Salazar; He is a young boy of fifteen years, a Peruvian by nationality and adequately talented in tennis to carry a dream of playing for an American University and making a run at a professional career. He was a visitor to the USA and was at the verge of being deported back to Peru, which would have deprived him the right of returning to USA for another 10 years. It all turned around for him, when the HAT Fund stepped in and awarded him a temporary scholarship. The one and only reason that HAT Fund was able to award this scholarship stems from the generous support that the Fund receives from the community. Thanks to the community’s care giving, there isn’t anywhere else in the World that Marcos would like to be.
Finally, when speaking on the subject of inclusivity (My final word while we are on the subject of inclusivity), it is in my personal belief that for any sports organization, inclusivity should not be reduced to an item on a checklist; it has to be raised to the level of a nonnegotiable commitment. And I personally believe that this is the value we should all cherish and express in our everyday activities and goal of making our community a better place for everyone.
To Be Continued…