Hoopz For Life

Hoopz For Life

From Zerlina Smith

Sport for Social Development is a method of bringing about social change through the use of sports. Sport refers to the physical activity and development is any individual, health, social, and economic benefits. devel...

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The children are our future, right? So what are we teaching our children in and through sports.  We have seen sports teach about healthy relationships , healthy living and more. Some sport institutions send a strong message about an individual's role to prevent violence and equip them with tools to take action and mobilize their community to prevent all acts of violence.  This year around Westside Basketball Tournament going , young athletes (and activists 16 -30 years old) will gather three days a week Thursday , Friday and Saturdays. Time; 8:00 PM until 12:00 AM to create calls to action via sports to take leadership to progressively end all acts of violence for a whole year.

While the majority of violence is committed by boys and men.  It is essential that boys and men have conversations, albeit hard, about healthy masculinity as a means to prevent Gun Violence and/or domestic violence from happening.  Through Sport, we have seen coaches open their hearts and minds about their role as mentors for young boys and men about healthy manhood and athletes respond to the challenge to proactively stop violence in their communities.

Sport organizations and leagues are omnipresent in most local communities. When these groups ‘team up’ to align their efforts in community-wide prevention strategies, the message is clear and powerful: this sport community is committed to progressively ending all acts of violence. From regional campaigns that align prevention programs in high school athletics, local businesses, and professional teams to state-by-state trainings that are catalyzing communities to transform the sport culture, these strategies are proving that there is incredible potential and power in the collective.

With millions of people following and watching sports, sports leagues, teams, and players have an incredible opportunity to model the values and norms in their communities. Athletes can and have used sport as a platform to talk about the connection between our ideas about masculinity and gun violence as well as raise money to directly fill a gap to address the needs of survivors of gun violence. Teams can and have used the game itself to raise awareness and engage their spectators to take a stand against gun and domestic violence.

Preventing gun and domestic violence specifically is not the key mission of sport organizations, but supporting the well-being of every individual is a core component of every sport organization. Therefore, approaches and strategies that aim to do both are integral to both ‘on the field’ and ‘off the field’ instruction. Many teams are building in time during the season and in the off-season to support coaches, league administrators, and athletes learning to understand the problem and how to be part of the solution to end all acts of violence.  Some sports organizations have incorporated sexual and domestic violence prevention into the ‘job description’ for coaches and have instituted leadership training for all coaches to support them in this role.

National Sport Institutions

And citywide organizations we have partnered with subject-matter experts to build sport-specific resources for the Westside communities, combining the expertise around the ins and outs of a particular sport’s systems and climate with the decades of knowledge held by preventing violence in fields to develop creative and comprehensive strategies and resources.

Sport inherently provides an incredible mentoring system, where peers look up to successful peers and coaches replicate successful strategies used by other coaches. Their influence continues ‘off the field’ as well, inspiring some young athletes to channel their professional sports heroes and challenge coaches in their communities to take a stand against al violence act.

In this way, the sport system can align efforts to leverage this exponential impact toward ending violence.

A westside free of gun violence would recognize, value, and lift up all of the various talents that girls and boys bring to a team, workplace, and society overall.  Sport is one place where women and young girls gain confidence and connection to a community (which are factors that reduce risk for domestic violence). In addition, sports programs are teaching young girls that they are important leaders in demanding and reinforcing a culture that denounces violence and supports healthy individuals, relationships, and communities

.9. Sports Commitment Starts With the Youngest Athletes

Preventing acts of  violence starts early – and sport programs also start early.  Some youth sports programs are setting standards and norms in sports that protect against future sexual and domestic violence down the road. -

Professional leagues often have a huge impact in their hometowns, often setting a standard for community engagement and using their platform to reinforce the values of the community.  Incredible advancements have been made locally in addressing and preventing violence when local Club presidents and national leagues  have prioritized this cause.  In rare cases, long-standing partnerships between local teams and subject-matter experts have shifted the way the entire community views and responds to violence!

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