Few social activities have the ability to bring people together like sports. From the time of the original Olympic Games in ancient Greece, life and even wars were put on hold to create space for spirited but friendly competition. With the prospect of escaping the social isolation of the global pandemic, and with growing political and social polarization in the United States and around the world, many crave a return to the normal non-political “hysteria” of sports as a diversion and as a vehicle for bringing people together to further the larger social goals of peace, understanding, tolerance, and sportsmanship.
Therefore, the Indiana Council on World Affairs believes that March is the perfect time to feature a program on “Diplomacy Through Sports: The Globalization of Sport and Societal Change”. Coming just as “March Madness” is tipping off in Indianapolis (and in an Olympic year), this program promises to (1) address the ways that sports diplomacy aligns with US foreign policy goals to strengthen relationships between the United States and other nations, (2) discuss the growth of “world sports” and the opportunities they create to foster better understanding among people from different cultures and countries, (3) raise awareness of the opportunities available to American and international athletes to compete at the university and professional levels, (4) explore the evolving roles of athletes as cultural ambassadors and advocates for social change, and (5) acknowledge the impact that US inclusion policies have had on creating opportunities for girls and women to enjoy the benefits that sports teach, such as, communication, teamwork and leadership.