Sport for solidarity
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Solidarity is central to the values of sport, and the lessons we learn from sport enable it to be a leader for the global solidarity movement, write Eli A. Wolff and Mary A. Hums.

As the years progress one increasingly realises the importance of friendship and human solidarity. And if a 90-year-old may offer some unsolicited advice on this occasion, it would be that you, irrespective of your age, should place human solidarity, the concern for the other, at the centre of the values by which you live.

Nelson Mandela

Sport has prepared us for this. The lessons of sport, the experience of sport. Everything about sport reinforces the important value of solidarity, and it is more important than ever that we take this lesson and apply it to our current reality. Solidarity means unity, resilience, courage, kindness and respect.

Sport teaches us unity when we see teammates striving together for a common goal. As a global community our common goal now is to defeat the corona virus by working together.

Sport teaches us resilience when we see athletes fail, but rise again, like a boxer who comes up from being knocked to the mat to eventually win their match. We need such resilience now, as at times the corona virus seems to be an insurmountable opponent knocking us to the mat as we struggle to find the resilience to rise again.

Sport teaches us courage to fight on despite the odds. Are there any more courageous people in our midst right now than the medical professionals and caretakers who selflessly walk onto the pandemic battlefield on a daily basis to defend people they may never meet?

Sport teaches us kindness when teammates lift each other up after a tough loss or a bad day on the field. The losses we face now are immeasurable as loved ones are isolated from each other, some fall ill, and others may pass away. Where would we be without the kind word, often times from a stranger, to help us lift our heads again.

Sport teaches us respect for teammates, coaches, opponents, and for the game itself. At this point in history, every human being no matter their age, nationality, race, religion, refugee status, sexual identity, disability status, or gender identity deserves to be treated with the respect that comes from being who we are at our most basic – human. All lives have equal value.

Our sports teams, organisations and communities teach us to stay united, strong, resilient and together. Through sport we learn solidarity on and off the field. We now need to apply this to our neighbourhoods, communities, countries and world outside of sport.

April 6 is the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. On this day around the world we can honour the power of sport for solidarity, and how sport teaches us, prepares us and what we learn from sport to help us all in times like this.

According to the United Nations,

Solidarity is one of the fundamental and universal values that should underlie relations between all people.

Solidarity is central to the values of sport and the lessons we learn from sport enable it to be a leader for the global solidarity movement.


Director, Power of Sport Lab


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