Those in events know that building an engaging experience for your audience is key.
So coming into 2020, poised to bring together the third annual Global Sport Summit - an event welcoming speakers and attendees from around the world - a pandemic was not exactly the engaging experience I had in mind.
In mid March, a few of our staff were set to board a plane to Austin, Texas to present on the Post-Sport Journey at SXSW when the cancellations started. It felt like the beginning of a horror movie as we all watched the NBA suspend its season, NCAA cancel championships, and the Tokyo Olympics suspend the games until 2021; the dominoes of sport were falling fast.
Hopefully, this pandemic would last only a few weeks?
As live sports became past tense, we knew there was still a lot happening. In trying to make sense of this moment, our team decided to turn on the camera, bring in our community, and start asking questions.
On April 3rd, what would have been our Global Sport Summit, we launched the first virtual conversation with colleagues representing every continent in the world. Simon Chadwick, a professor and director of Eurasian Sport at Emlyon, asked the panel, “Is this a reset moment for sport?” This reset moment could have a drastic impact, or the reset moment could be small insignificant shifts. The only way to find out was to examine this question with as many minds as possible.
Our course was set.
Over the year, Global Sport Matters Live hosted international leaders, local leaders, athletes, advocates, and academics exploring issues, like the access gap in youth sport, the expanding role of coaches around racial justice, shifting resources for mental health and pain management with new policy changes, and more. In each conversation, not a single person was satisfied with retaining the status quo.
The world of sport, like the world outside of sport, is ready for change.
Change is expanding the narrative around equity for Black athletes, like Rashawn Ray and Mirna Valerio, or using running to connect to family and bring awareness and justice to Native lives lost to COVID-19 and violence, like Jordan Marie Daniel. Change is widening the role of coaching in a players life as they navigate a pandemic, loss, and racial injustice like Coach Dawn Staley and Ahada McCummings. Change is fighting for the rights of athletes to participate in sport as their full selves without fear, like Ashland Johnson, or working to eliminate access gaps for youth sport, like Renata Simril. Change is feeling it is not enough to just be the 'first', but to make sure the door remains open for others to follow, like Fitz Hill and Ilhaam Groenewald. Change is pushing beyond the present moment to reimagine how to make sports better for all, like Simon Chadwick.
This year was not an anomaly, it was a breaking point and so many of us are ready to change direction, disarm the old guard, and push forward into a world that represents what sport is: For everyone.
Here are 10 people who have done the work, and will continue to make progress in 2021.
Although no one could have predicted all that 2020 has been, what lessons will the world of sport take into next year?
We asked some of the best and brightest minds to contribute their thoughts.