July 25, 2019

The power of sports to create a stronger, more unified community


When life gets hectic, it’s easy to forget to take care of yourself. But it’s important to remember that when you look after your mind and body, you are better able to care for others. Sometimes a hobby or a sport will help you unwind and feel integrated within yourself, but also with others.

We decided to turn to two nobel peace prize winners and one pope to get their thoughts on the power of sports.

Malala Yousafzai It won’t come as any surprise that Pakistan’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, who fought for the right of all women to receive a quality education, is also eager to support women in sports. 

But she adds that sports do more than create incredible athletes who act as inspiring role models. She says that sports, “connect people from different backgrounds, different cultures and unites people from different countries.”

We agree. Earlier this year, one of our community partners Covenant House worked with James Thornton, a former pro football player for the Chicago Bears, the New York Jets, and the Houston Oilers. Thornton is using his celebrity status to help homeless children overcome steep barriers in order to achieve independence and success.

Nelson Mandela Although spending more than 27 years in prison while continually fighting for the end of segregation in South Africa, Mandela has never let the abuse he suffered leave him without forgiveness for his enemy. In 1993, Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian efforts. 

But he never stopped attempting to unite the country that he was elected to serve as president. Historians often note that South Africa’s unlikely 1995 Rugby World Cup win united the country. 

Mandela later commented on sports saying, “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language that they can understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers.”

Olive Crest, one of our community partners, often organizes tournaments and races to bring the community together in support of children from abusive situations. With the help of these unified communities, these children are able to find hope.

Saint Pope John Paul II An avid athlete since childhood, John Paul II was known for occasionally playing goalie on the local Jewish soccer team. He wrote that sport transcends “differences between cultures and nations”.

He was known for organizing hikes while a priest, skiing almost a decade into his papacy, and having a swimming pool installed at his summer residence. He wrote, “Playing sports has become very important today, since it can encourage young people to develop important values such as loyalty, perseverance, friendship, sharing, and solidarity.”

These values are needed to serve our most underprivileged communities.

Consider letting your light shine by volunteering with one of our community partnerships. FosterAll helps youth find loving families, Human Trafficking Coalition LA (CAST) provides comprehensive, life-changing services for survivors, and Harvest Home transforms the lives of homeless pregnant women and their children.

What will you do? We love seeing our community members take charge for the good of the marginalized.

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