Whether you’re an athlete, fan, parent or coach, sports and recreation touch our lives with a grasp that extends far beyond the reaches of the field. In many ways, sports figures have emerged to the forefront of activism and social change. As athletes and teams take on an increasingly influential role within the realm of equality and inclusion, there is a need for dialogue around the role we all play on and off the field.
In order to kick start these discussions, CU Boulder Athletics and Recreation Services have joined together to co-host the second annual Inclusive Sports Summit (ISS) on Wednesday, Feb. 20. Following this year’s theme of “Awareness Leading to Action,” the event seeks to provide attendees with the necessary tools to make positive and actionable change within their communities.
“Sports transcends America,” shared Medford Moorer, associate director of Academics and Development for CU Boulder’s Athletics Department. “At some point, we’re all connected to sports, and they’re connected to us. We need to consider the responsibility we have to not only embrace our teammates but to embrace the communities they come from.”
Moorer added that sports give us an unparalleled opportunity to find unity, not only within our own communities, but within a greater global context. However, in order for that to happen, “We must strive for excellence by creating greater inclusion and access to sports.” That’s why ISS covers a variety of topics ranging from social justice, LGBTQ, race and ethnicity, health and wellness, and careers in sport. “We want all of our students to have a sense of belonging on our teams, on our campus and in our community.”
Changes to this year’s summit
While the modules offered this year closely reflect those offered at last year’s event, the program directors have made some notable changes. This year’s event will have a greater emphasis on mental health, concussions, youth sports and related careers.
Many of the speakers for this year’s event also represent a cross-section of topics. One such speaker is the afternoon keynote, Tamika Catchings, former WNBA player and U.S. Olympic gold medalist. Catchings will speak to her experience playing basketball as a minority woman with a hearing disability. The evening keynote will feature Ryan Harris, a former offensive tackle for the NFL, who will speak to his experience playing professional football as a practicing Muslim.
Presentations and panels are also slated to cover issues of inclusion, transgender identity in sports, athlete mental health and body image, unconscious bias, gender inclusion, youth sports and the student-athlete experience.
In addition to these speaking engagements, ISS will be hosting a career fair in the late afternoon. The career fair will provide students with an opportunity to explore and learn about different career paths within the sports and recreation industry and engage with companies who focus on inclusion as part of their mission. About 20 companies are expected to attend the fair representing the ski industry, professional sports, and parks and recreation, among others.
“In many ways, this summit is a form of community activism,” explained Nicole LaRocque, associate director for Recreation Programs. “Our goal is to transition from teaching people about the issues to empowering them to take action.”
ISS 2019 will take place in the CU Boulder Recreation and Champion centers on Wednesday, Feb. 20. The event is free and open to the public. Students, staff and faculty are highly encouraged to attend. For more information, visit the Inclusive Sports Summit 2019 event page.