By Ken Reed
As a sports reformer, one tends to focus on what’s wrong with sports and what can be done to make them better. I think that’s a natural tendency and one that’s probably necessary if the goal is to help mitigate the problems in the world of sports.
That said, it’s also worthwhile to highlight some of the positives in sports and provide examples of what’s working.
It’s to that end that I’d like to shine the spotlight on an organization called PeacePlayers.
PeacePlayers was founded by basketball-playing brothers Sean and Brendan Tuohey in 2000 based on their belief that “children who play together can learn to live together.” Sean had played pro basketball in Northern Ireland and had successfully operated basketball clinics for Protestant and Catholic children in Belfast. The success of those clinics provided the inspiration for the formation of PeacePlayers.
Here’s PeacePlayers’ mission statement:
At PeacePlayers, we use the power of sport to unite, educate and inspire young people to create a more peaceful world. We offer sport programming, peace education, and leadership development to those living in communities in conflict. We challenge the hate that is driven by the fear of our differences. We bridge divides between people through the game of basketball and we develop young leaders who help to change perceptions.
PeacePlayers has reached 75,000+ youth, trained 2000+ coaches and worked with 260+ partner schools and non-profits since the Tuoheys launched their organization. According to PeacePlayers, 10% of children live in countries affected by armed conflicts. Therefore, they have a year-round presence on four continents: Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.
Here’s a powerful video featuring Villanova men’s basketball coach Jay Wright talking about his first experience on a PeacePlayers project.
PeacePlayers is a great example confirming Nelson Mandela’s famous quote:
“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 understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.”
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of FansPrint
- League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.