Taking the hate out of high school sports – “We live for empowerment.”
Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society and the state of Massachusetts have recently partnered on a new initiative to address hate and build a healthy, inclusive culture in school sports.
It was recently announced that Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society was chosen to partner with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association ( MIAA), the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), the Massachusetts School Administrators Association (MSAA), along with a host of other educational and non-profit stakeholders to conduct a series of 13 regional statewide trainings to help superintendents, principals, and athletic directors prevent and address hate and bias in school sports. The trainings began in March 2023, and are being delivered in a two-day facilitation curricular format at various locations across the state. The trainings are open to all school districts at no cost to attendees.
“People turn to us because we have a 39-year history of credibility in the training space specific to helping people embrace skill sets and toolkits to prevent violence, unpack unconscious bias and stop the proliferation of toxic speech,” explained Dan Lebowitz, Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern. “We, at Sport in Society engage people in the conversations requisite to embrace their change agency to effect and sustain a culture of inclusive empowerment. In essence, through our trainings we provide people a pathway to walk the walk of doing real work, with and for real people, that leads to real outcomes with respect to creating a positive, normative culture for themselves and the communities in which they live.”
These current trainings are the next phase of “Addressing Hate in School Sports,” which began with a statewide conference in 2022, after an uptick in reported bullying, harassment, and hazing incidents across Massachusetts. The initiative spearheaded by Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell is designed to provide for the equity and well-being of children by combatting bullying and harassment in schools. By engaging people through their dialogic pedagogy, Sport in Society, helps to empower school superintendents, principals, athletic directors, coaches, and other school personnel with the tools they need to address hate and to build a healthy, inclusive culture in school sports.
“Our pedagogy, our curriculum, and our safe-space approach are all designed to help vested stakeholders create the positive normative change that is equitable, inclusive, and impactful. We never enter a space or approach the work with a lens of legislating behavior, we want to create a safe space where we can facilitate a conversation and help drive change,” said Lebowitz. “We are a social impact entity that strives each day to create engagement, empowerment, and true collective betterment.”
This includes equipping participants with real-life techniques on how to identify, respond to, and eradicate unconscious bias and toxic speech. To achieve this, the Center will incorporate a “train the trainer” model, with the goal of equipping attendees with the skills and understanding necessary to embrace and learn the curriculum and bring it back to their districts to embed it within their school culture.
Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society
Founded in 1984, the Center uses sport as a social justice platform to make the world a better place by supporting athletes, organizations, and emerging leaders.
“These issues aren’t endemic to a particular community, it’s an epidemic in our larger society,” adds Lebowitz, who sees the role of the Center and Northeastern as powerful change agents. “I believe that Northeastern is an incredible social impact institution,” explained Lebowitz, “and part of what makes us impactful is we’re able to embrace the communities in which we live and help the people who live there to meet their own challenges with the wealth of their lived experience.”
In an age of heightened political divisiveness, and with the Center’s primary curricular focus on the importance of DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion), Lebowitz understands that initially, some participants may enter the space of training with hesitancy. But given the keen expertise of the Center’s trainers, the response of the participants statewide has been overwhelmingly positive, and school districts have been clamoring for more training not less.
“I received an email from someone who attended a recent training, and they said they went into the room on the first day with a reluctance that measured a “negative five”. Essentially, they didn’t want to engage at all around the subject area of DEI,” recalls Lebowitz. “Yet, once they were immersed in the safety room that the trainers create, they were full and active participants and they said they left the training registering a “positive 10”.” They and their school district have since asked for additional training.
It is this individual impact, by someone simply showing up to learn, that the Center and Lebowitz believe can create systemic, sustainable change.
Lebowitz remains reverent of the amazing global platform of Northeastern and CPS. “At the end of the day, if we didn’t have champions, we would just be an entity with a cause,” notes Lebowitz. “It is the championship of Northeastern and CPS that empowers us to effect change, engage with the people we impact, and allows all the partners and stakeholders we reach in our trainings to open themselves to the possibilities and discover the intellectual promise that positive change holds – that’s the impact that really matters.”
In addition to this new partnership, the Center for the Study of Sport in Society has developed a curriculum and delivered training to Major League Baseball, for the NFL, at the South African World Cup, to every branch of the US military, for the NFLPA, to every major college conference, to police departments, community groups, and non-profits, to over 140 high schools in Massachusetts in partnership with the Attorney General and the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation, and to hundreds of other high schools; locally, nationally, and internationally.
Click here to learn more about the Center for the Study of Sport in Society, and how you can become involved. https://www.northeastern.edu/sportinsociety/about/
Webinar Replay: The Emergence of eSports at the Collegiate and Professional Levels
This webinar replay delves into the eSports world and how it has emerged into a multibillion-dollar industry. Our presenters discussed the growth of eSports as a competitive sport at the collegiate level and opportunities for those interested as a participant and in a career in eSports field. The event was facilitated by Northeastern’s Robert Prior, EdD, lead faculty for the Master of Sports Leadership program. He was joined by Nick Avery, associate director of club sports and eSports for Northeastern University.
Northeastern’s Master of Sports Leadership now offers a concentration in eSports.
Webinar Replay: Using Sports to Learn Analytics and Data Driven Decision Making
This webinar engaged practitioners in a discussion on the use of sports to learn analytics. Participants walked away with a better understanding of how analytics informs decision making in the business of sports. The event was facilitated by Northeastern’s Robert Prior, EdD, lead faculty for the Master of Sports Leadership program, who was joined by Jonathan Hay, vice president of data, intelligence & analytics for the Boston Red Sox, and Dave Schrader, sports analytics educator and board member of Teradata University Network.
Northeastern’s Master of Sports Leadership now offers a concentration in Analytics.
U.S. Army Veteran Running 150 Miles Through Sahara Desert
Ryan Vanderweit, a U.S. Army veteran who earned his master’s degree in sports leadership at Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies, is running the Marathon de Sables to raise money for organizations that support veterans.
3 Leadership Lessons from Winning Olympians
By Dr. Robert Prior.
Robert M. Prior, EdD, faculty member in the Master of Sports Leadership program, has a wealth of experience in the sports industry, having worked at the Olympic, professional, and collegiate levels.
We think of the Olympics as one of our greatest opportunities to see top athletes perform on the world’s biggest stage.
But even if you tune in to every minute of the Olympic games, you only see a small piece of the picture. What about all the months, weeks, and hours these athletes, teams and coaches spend preparing? How did they go from being great — to becoming the best of the best?
The answer lies in leadership. No matter what role you currently have or where you aspire to be, there’s a leadership lesson to be learned from the athletes, teams, and coaches.
As a venue operations manager at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, I got to see first hand what it takes to win gold, and learned some lessons about leadership along the way.
The following are lessons I’ve gleaned from that Olympics as well as many others, as key principles shine through each time.
1. Focus: Jesse Owens, U.S. Track and Field Athlete
Learning how to focus isn’t something you do just when the pressure’s on. Focus is something leaders
practice day-in and day-out by being present in the moment, and not letting challenges that crop up get in the way. A terrific example is American track and field athlete Jesse Owens. Owens won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, a triumph for the United States as Hitler and host Germany contended that their race was superior. Owens’ focus on reaching his goals despite the odds and discrimination he faced in a hostile environment, displayed the courage, perseverance, and humility of a true leader.
2. Buy-In: U.S. Men’s Ice Hockey Team
The 1980 US Men’s Ice Hockey Team provided the most improbable and exciting upset in sports history.
The “Miracle on Ice” saw the American roster of collegiate hockey players take down the U.S.S.R. with a shocking 4-3 win in the semi-final game and gold medal victory over Finland in the final at Lake Placid, NY. This team is a case-study on what true buy-in to a team goal looks like. Each player on the U.S. team understood their role and trusted in one another as they bought into the team thanks to head coach Herb Brooks. The victory showed how a group can come together and accomplish even the most difficult tasks with determination and hard work.
3. Preparation: Bela Karolyi, Gymnastics Coach
If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail. And what does preparation entail? Discipline, sacrifice,
perseverance and commitment, just to name a few. Those characteristics are what makes Bela Karolyi one of the greatest coaches in Olympic history. Karolyi led the Romanian and US women’s gymnastics teams to medal-winning success and coached nine Olympic champions in his career. From Romanian Nadia Comaneci to Americans Mary Lou Retton and Kerri Strug, Karolyi has been able to bring out the best in his athletes time and time again.
Leadership traits and qualities displayed by these great Olympic individuals, teams and coaches can also be applied by today’s leaders in their quest for excellence and success in the business world.
Fortune 500 companies regularly bring in professional coaches to talk to their companies about teamwork, goal setting, buy-in, identifying your strengths and weaknesses, learning from your experience, and fostering humility and trust.
As you watch this year’s Olympic games, don’t just watch for who wins. Take a look at all of the athletes, teams and coaches. What leadership characteristics do you see? Who inspires you to become better?
Sports Leadership Program Earns National Accreditation
Northeastern Degree is One of 18 COSMA Accredited Graduate Programs Across U.S.
Northeastern University’s Master of Sports Leadership program was recently granted accreditation by The Commission on Sport Management Accreditation.
The Master of Sports Leadership program is one of only 18 graduate sport management programs in the country to receive this accreditation. The Commission on Sport Management Accreditation (COSMA) notes that its accreditation is based on “characteristics of excellence in sport management education and assessment of educational outcomes.”
“Earning the accreditation from COSMA truly confirms that the Northeastern Master of Sports Leadership program is delivering excellence in sport management education,” said John LaBrie, Dean, Northeastern University College of Professional Studies. “Our current students, alumni, and future students can be confident that we are making every effort to provide the knowledge, tools, and best practices for a fulfilling career in the sports industry.”
The Master of Sports Leadership program began the process of seeking COSMA accreditation in 2011. This included establishing and implementing a program and course level outcomes assessment plan, collecting and reporting data from direct and indirect measures of student learning, and submitting a comprehensive self-study document. Last spring Northeastern hosted a site visit at both its Boston and Charlotte campuses as a final evaluation by the COSMA Board of Commissioners.
“This validation of the great work our faculty in the Master of Sports Leadership program does is much deserved,” said Dr. Philomena Mantella, Senior Vice President and CEO of the Northeastern University Global Network. “It’s fulfilling to know Northeastern has contributed at the highest level to preparing students for careers in the sports industry space.”
The Master of Sports Leadership program, founded in 2005, has conferred over 275 degrees since its first graduating class in 2007. The practice-oriented degree is structured to educate mid-career athletic administrators and coaches, as well as individuals seeking to prepare for careers in the sports industry.
COSMA is a specialized accrediting body whose purpose is to promote and recognize excellence in sport management education worldwide in colleges and universities at the baccalaureate and graduate levels through specialized accreditation. It is the only organization offering discipline specific accreditation in sport management.
A list of all COSMA-accredited institutions can be found here.
About Northeastern University College of Professional Studies
About Northeastern University