Sports are deeply engrained in our society. Sports are in our schools, in our recreation, in our entertainment, in our pop culture. In Canada, sport has as big an impact on people, families, and communities as any other institution.
We are at once a nation of athletes and fans.
Regardless if you play a sport yourself, everyone (particularly children) is subject to the powerful messages brought into the mainstream by sport. In society today, athletes are held up as heroes and villains whose life stories become narratives that teach youth about broader social issues, public perception, or personal and professional conduct.
And with the rise of the internet, social media, and a 24/7 look into the lives of pro athletes, the infiltration of sport into public discourse shows no signs of slowing down.
It’s not hard to think of examples of sport bringing social issues to light. Think Jackie Robinson, and the breaking down of the colour barrier in baseball. Or Title IX, and the rise of women in sport. Or Michael Sam, and the willingness to discuss sexual orientation in locker rooms. Or Devon Still and his daughter Leah, and her recovery from cancer. Or the numerous charities, community initiatives, and public projects launched by leagues, teams, and athletes.
Now to introduce Dr. Richard Lapchick, often referred to as the “social conscience of sport”. Dr. Lapchick is a human rights activist, a pioneer of racial equality, and an internationally recognized expert on sport and society. Dr. Lapchick is a scholar and author, Chair of the DeVos Sport Business Management Program at UCF, creator of the National Consortium for Academics and Sports, and Director of The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES).
He is also the son of Joe Lapchick, a triple-inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame – as both a player and a coach.
Which all makes Dr. Lapchick more than qualified to explain the important link between sport and social change in this powerful and thought-provoking TEDx Talk.
Disclaimer: Dr. Lapchick uses sensitive language at points in his talk in the retelling of personal stories.
What did you think of Dr. Lapchick’s talk? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Nick Boon is the Coordinator of Youth Development for Canada Basketball. Nick holds degrees in Physical Education & Health and Sport Business Management, and is a long-time and overly-obsessed basketball coach, player, and fan.