Turning mega-sporting events into a platform for social change
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The S&D sector talks about using sport as a hook to get individuals involved in programmes and development initiatives. Mega-sporting events have the capacity to do the same on a global scale.

There is much debate about the potential advantages and disadvantages of mega-sporting events, with many arguing that they often promote the unsustainable culture of global mass-consumption.

However, one of their benefits was made clear with the #LikeAGirl campaign that featured among the television commercials during this year’s Super Bowl.

The message that Always seeks to convey through its #LikeAGirl commercial is that doing things ‘like a girl’ can be awesome. The phrase ‘like a girl’ has traditionally been used as an insult and has led to social stigmas in the world of sport and beyond.

Over 114 million American viewers watched as the commercial depicted young girls running, throwing and kicking not unlike any young boy would, bringing into question the stereotype of things done ‘like a girl’.

Aside from bringing gender inequality to the attention of over a third of the US population, the #LikeAGirl campaign succeeded in engaging millions of viewers in what has become an extended debate. This is reflected in the fact that the YouTube version of the commercial has close to 60 million views.

The #LikeAGirl commercial was indeed a new take on mega-sporting event television advertising, which usually reinforces global mass-consumption with commercials for cars, soft drinks and potato chips.

This campaign should serve as an example of using the massive television audiences watching some of the world’s biggest sporting events to serve a greater purpose.

Imagine if something of social importance was communicated to the billion television viewers of the recent India v Pakistan Cricket World Cup match, or half the world’s population that tuned in at one point or another during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

The potential of mega-sporting events to communicate significant messages should be used to serve a greater purpose. By doing so, they can improve their reputation among local and global critics and contribute in a manner that transcends sport as entertainment and reflects sport as an effective tool for development.

Below is the extended version of the #LikeAGirl commercial.




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