Beyond Sport Summit Kicks Off In Philly With Panel On How Soccer Can Drive Change
Using the world’s most popular sport as a vehicle to drive social change was the theme of the day yesterday as Beyond Sport and streetfootballworld hosted a one-day Beyond Soccer event at PPL Park. The event was the precursor to the Beyond Sport Summit, which runs today through Wednesday and will include myriad topics on how organizations can best partner with sports teams and leagues to facilitate social change from national to grassroots levels. Keynote speaker Chris Lodgson set the tone for the day with an impassioned address in which he delivered “a wake-up call to action, a call to enlistment” to the 100-plus attendees. Lodgson told how his association with Street Soccer USA had helped pull him out of unemployment and poverty and he called soccer “a deciding factor in the fight against poverty in the United States.” Panelist Mike Geddes of streetfootballworld went further to say “Soccer’s social conscience is being tested like never before.” Yesterday's event focused solely on soccer, with panels ranging from the role of pro teams in their communities to the concept of shared value through sponsorships to the impact of mega-events, with insight on the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Brazil provides “the opportunity of a lifetime,” Geddes said. There is also a unique opportunity with Brazil because having the World Cup followed two years later by the Olympics to give organizations the opportunity to retool their strategy between events.
WHAT LIES AHEAD: As the summit shifts away from the soccer pitch, so the focus of the event broadens to topics as varied as children’s fitness, nutrition and safety, inner city sports programs and how to best attract investment. Speakers include NBA Commissioner David Stern, former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, execs from the NFL, NBA and NHL and a host of public service groups. The event includes a reception tomorrow with Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter hosted by the Eagles, 76ers, Phillies and MLS Union -- the first time, organizers say, the city’s professional teams have collaborated on a single event -- and culminates with the Beyond Sport Awards on Wednesday night.