Hal Wilson - Student-Athletes & Social Change
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  • Emphasize the lack of connections and “one-off” of community service events – no consistency or relationships established – mostly just “PR” photo ops – detached service
  • How sport and service tie the university to the community through the activities of the Center
  • Focus on Coursework and how student-athletes are connecting the dots – from theory to practice Teaching theoretical principles of Sport for Development and Peace and learn how to become advocates for positive social change through sport
  • Understanding sport and the way it impacts the lives of women in communist China, racially divided, HIV/AIDS, Corrective Rape S. Africa, war-torn/religiously divided Israel, and in an Islamic theocracy Iran – how all of these structures/laws/institutions impact life for women, especially as female athletes
  • Started 3 years ago Door to door Largest displacement crisis since Palestinians in 1948 Collaboration with community – always asking – what would you like to do or learn or see – try to make it happen – Smoky Mountains, 250 person Soccer tournament, basketball and soccer games, and sports clinics with the Lady Vols Foundational piece is our weekly after-school program – exercise for women in all female space, sports for kids
  • It has been our experience, that when you make athletes aware of local needs, when you explain to them how they can use something they are passionate about and good at to make a difference, that they take up the cause themselves and that there is a difference in how they approach the activity – mandatory/photo op vs. inspired


  • 1. From Apathy to Advocacy:Student-athletes & Social Change Dr. Sarah Hillyer Director of the UT Center for Sport, Peace, & Society Dr. Ashleigh Huffman Asst. Director of the UT Center for Sport, Peace, & Society Mr. Hal Wilson Ph.D. student, Socio-Cultural Studies
  • 2. The University of Tennessee State’s flagship institution Land-grant, research university 28,000 students – 50 states – 100 foreign countries Ranked in top 50 – striving for Top 25 Ready for the World, VOL Vision
  • 3. The University of Tennessee Athletics 500+ student-athletes 23 National Titles in 25 years 150 SEC titles Community Service – East TN Children’s Hospital – Boys & Girls Club – Habitat for Humanity – April Play Day
  • 4. UT Center forSport, Peace, & Society
  • 5. UT Center forSport, Peace, & Society
  • 6. Activities of the Center Coursework Research/Curriculum Development Sports clinics (local and abroad) U.S. Dept. of State “Empowering Women and Girls through Sports” Exchange Program
  • 7. Women in Sport:An International Perspective Explores the ways sport intersects – Religion – Politics – Education – Culture – Gender U.S., China, South Africa, Israel, & Iran
  • 8. Service-Learning:Sport & Community Development 4.7 million Iraqis displaced 250 families living in Knoxville 4 self-identified needs: health, community, education, and friendship Weekly exercise classes for the women; after-school sports program for the kids
  • 9. Connecting the dots:From theory to practice Since 2008, 50 student-athletes have been exposed to ideas of SDP via coursework 165+ student-athletes have been engaged in more than 120 hours of service 7 sports clinics with refugees or international populations: Basketball, Softball, Soccer (3), Volleyball (2)
  • 10. Expose “If it weren’t for this class, I would have graduated with a degree in Sports Management and pursued a career as a coach or administrator without ever knowing about sport and social change. I wish I had taken this class much sooner in my career because now I know more than ever before exactly what I want to do with my athletic skills and my undergraduate degree. Now I want to find a job that allows me to use my passion (in sports) and my passion for making my community a more inclusive place to live.”
  • 11. Equip “Knox Kicks World Cup was the perfect event for me to transfer my ‘book knowledge’ about event management into practical application. The best part was that not only did I have the opportunity to ‘do’ event management, I also learned about putting on an event with a social purpose.”
  • 12. Empower “In this class (Women in Sport), I have learned so much. And it made me think how our team could use basketball to help the refugee families in Knoxville. I talked with my teammates about having a sports clinic for the families and everyone was excited about meeting new people. Then some of us went to our coaches and asked them if we could give a free clinic after one of our practices. We were so excited when our coaches were on board. I would say that playing with the Iraqi ladies and kids was one of the most meaningful things our team has ever done together. I hope we can do this more often and on a more consistent basis. It’s really important for us to get outside our own little bubble.”
  • 13. Entrust “Many people don’t know that I have a severe learning disability. I struggled a lot and school made me have really low self-esteem. This is why I feel that I can relate to the refugees. School is hard for them because everything about it is different than what they are used to. And they get picked on. And the teachers don’t explain things in a way they can understand. But this class (Sport and Community Development) changed my self-image about being a good student. I could be a good student because I learn best by doing. But this class also made me a better person. Even though I graduated, I am still doing things with refugees in Texas. I can’t imagine not being involved in their lives.”
  • 14. Implications We believe this model can be applied in a variety of settings with varying organizational structures and is most effective when: – There is community buy-in/Reciprocity – There is a shared sense of ownership (athletics, UT, the Center) – There is a connection between theory and practice (not a one-off) – The events or ideas are initiated by the athlete (as opposed to an outside organization) in response to a community need (bottom-up approach)
  • 15. Thank you! Website – sportandpeace.utk.edu Facebook – www.facebook.com/TheCenterForSportPeaceSociety Twitter – twitter.com/SportandPeaceUT Email – csps@utk.edu