Throughout U.S. history, sports has had the power to bring people together from all walks of life. Take last week’s Cubs’ World Series victory celebration which, it’s said, drew the seventh-largest gathering of human beings in the history of the planet.
“But along the way, sports has often created a common space for Americans to confront and discuss national issues, issues that they might not otherwise seek to engage with,” said ASU’s Ian Moulton, professor of English and cultural history and interim director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy. “Sports has advanced national conversations and actions around race and gender equality, domestic violence, and social justice, for example.”
The event features a conversation with Miami Dolphins principal owner Stephen M. Ross, who will be honored that evening as the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy’s 2016 Architect of Change. Ross is the visionary founder of the nonprofit Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) and presently the only NFL owner to publicly support the player’s national anthem protest movement.
Ross, who grew up in Detroit and saw firsthand the deleterious impact of racism on that community, started RISE in 2015, according to the organization’s website, to harness the “unifying power of sports to improve race relations and drive social progress.”
Working with 30-plus community partners, RISE is on track to reach more than 50,000 participants in its 2016-2017 programs. The organization is served by a board of directors and advisory board of individuals who come from a cross-section of professional and amateur sports, media, and the nonprofit world.
Arizona Cardinals player Larry Fitzgerald serves on the advisory board.
"I saw a unique opportunity to ... produce real change and create a new paradigm,” said Ross about his vision for RISE. “The sports community is uniquely positioned and empowered to break down barriers, and provides us with a vast platform in which to begin open conversations, impact youth and be an effective catalyst for social progress.”
The conversation with Ross will be facilitated by ASU’s Ray Anderson, vice president for university athletics and athletic director.
Anderson will also moderate the panel discussion which will follow. It will include Kenneth Shropshire, professor and director of the Wharton Sports Initiative, University of Pennsylvania; Ann Meyers Drysdale, vice president, Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury; and Michael Young, captain and public information officer, Glendale Fire Department, and Millennium High School varsity football coach.
“We’re excited to be partnering with RISE to bring together students, sports figures, academic experts and interested citizens,” said Sarah Herrera, program manager for the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy in ASU’s College of Integrative Sciences and Arts. “We expect a dynamic discussion that will encourage critical thinking and positive change.”
Part of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy’s Impact Arizona Series, Race and Sports: A Town Hall is free and open to the public. It takes place Monday, Nov. 14, at the Mesa Arts Center, 1 E. Main St., Mesa, AZ, 85201. The conversation and panel discussion, from 4 to 6 p.m., will be immediately followed by a lively Monday Night Football-themed reception.
Register at http://csrd.asu.edu/TownHall or call 602-496-1376.
Additional sponsors for the event include the Maricopa Community Colleges, ASU Gammage and the Helios Education Foundation.
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