Beyond Sport Summit Kicks Off In Philly With Panel On How Football Can Drive Change
Using the world’s most popular sport as a vehicle to drive social change was the theme of the day Sunday as Beyond Sport and streetfootballworld hosted a one-day Beyond Soccer event at PPL Park in Philadelphia. The event was the precursor to the Beyond Sport Summit, which runs 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 football "a deciding factor in the fight against poverty in the United States." Panelist Mike Geddes of streetfootballworld went further and said, "Soccer’s social conscience is being tested like never before." Sunday's event focused solely on football, 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 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 will give organizations the opportunity to retool their strategies between events.
WHAT LIES AHEAD: As the summit shifts away from the 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 Tuesday with Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, which will be 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.