April 13, 2011

Beyond the Field: The Power of Sports

Richard Lapchick knows first-hand about the transformative power of sports.

So when he addressed an auditorium full of people who had come to hear him speak about integration and college sports, his message was clear: “Sports can help us be inspired...Sports can obviously help us change our society.”

Lapchick chairs the DeVos Sport Business Management Program at the University of Central Florida, and is director of the National Consortium for Academics and Sports and The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, or TIDES.

He agreed to speak at “Losing to Win,” he said, because he could reach leaders and decision-makers on college campuses, who would in turn work with athletes so they could understand their power to influence fans and families. “Make them understand that they can have an impact in their communities,” he said.

This generation of athletes, he said, is very involved in the community – giving both money and time.

If you need convincing, he said, just look at what happened in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. Lapchick traveled there for a couple of days with the Orlando Magic; the team was delivering supplies and volunteering.

There, he met a 101-year-old woman named Ida Johnson whose family said they found hope in the fact that the Magic came to help.

That’s the transformative power of sports, Lapchick said. -- Alicia Roberts

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