Otterbein University faculty and students will come together for a one-day festival that will explore the subject of how athletes might use their notoriety and reputations to bring about social good. The theme of the festival is Good Sports: Playing for Social Change.
The keynote event is a presentation by Brendan Tuohey, the co-founder of PeacePlayers International, in Riley Auditorium of Battelle Fine Arts Center at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 27.
“We call an athlete a good sport when he plays fair on the field and within his game,” says Dr. Jim Gorman, co-director of the Symposium. “But what about beyond the field and outside the game? Might the good sport label also describe athletes who work to improve fair play in the larger society? Brendan Tuohey certainly believes so.”
Brendan and his brother Sean use the sport of basketball to overcome deeply entrenched barriers between antagonistic groups. Since the year 2000, PPI clinicshave shown children around the world how to “play together (so they) can live together.”
Clinics in Northern Ireland, South Africa, Israel and the West Bank, and New Orleans, have brought the PPI peace curriculum to over 58,000 children.
Brendan Tuohey says: “In communities where one group plays soccer, another Celtic football, we introduce a new sport, basketball. Early on, kids get hooked on just learning the game. Then we mix and match the teams, ‘twinning’ kids from the opposing groups. Kids start cooperating with each other because winning is fun.”
The symposium will also introduce Otterbein students to some local good sport programs. Robin Ungerleider, the Community Development Director and Program Specialist for the Columbus Crew, will speak at 9:15 a.m. in the Otterbein Chapel, describing how the Crew Soccer Foundation works with at-risk youth.
Ungerleider said: “Our missions are literacy, soccer field creation and restoration, and wellness. This summer’s new program was a partnership with the Metropolitan Library. It was called “Get a Kick Out of Reading. We challenged kids to read for 90 minutes (the length of soccer match). If they did that each week through the month of August, they earned tickets to our opener. Over 200 kids participated.”
Completing the day’s events will be a showing of the feature film Invictus, about how newly elected South African President Nelson Mandela used the sport of rugby to promote cooperation between whites and blacks.
Mandela asked the mostly white players of the national rugby team to introduce their game in black townships. The players were surprised and inspired by the enthusiastic acceptance of the game by black youth. They are also inspired by Mandela and his story of personal sacrifice for a higher cause, leading them to inspired play—and victory—in the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
Invictus will be shown in Roush Hall 114 at 6:30 p.m.
Admission is free to all three events, though please call Jim Gorman, 614-823-1133, to discuss seating availability.