September 13, 2013

Monday and Tuesday, the Beyond Sport Summit was a mission statement in action. Organizations were manufacturing indestructible soccer balls, or using skateboarding to empower young Afghani women, or starting a soccer league to help immigrants assimilate to a new culture. If the inspiration of these past and current projects can be channeled into the future, there is already a very real and very open issue to which activists in sports can send their efforts.

With the Sochi Winter Olympics approaching, there will soon be a readily available global stage on which social change can be made, in a place where oppressive hate still exists in the open.

“I’m gonna behave myself, for the record here, which is unlike me,” NBA commissioner David Stern said Wednesday, speaking as part of a panel that included Ed Rendell and was moderated by ESPN anchor and Philly native Kevin Negandhi.

“But you know, the first phone call to the new head of the Olympics [was] from President [Vladimir] Putin, and everyone wants to talk about the Russian law on homosexuality. Think about the opportunities that sports have to make a continuing statement, and the only thing that we’re saying in that context is ‘Shhhh! No one say anything!’”