An athlete’s success is traditionally defined by winning, but what if that success also meant victories for justice?
Over the past weeks, sportspeople have increasingly used their platforms to speak out and show support for the Black Lives Matter movement and spark conversations about race. It is a time for everyone to reconsider race and anti-racism and is especially important for The True Athlete Project (TAP) as we aim to nurture “humanitarian-athletes” who use their platform for good.
We believe that “a true athlete is someone who develops mind and body to help others, and make the world a better place.” However, we are aware that systemic discrimination can affect who takes part in sport, their experience of sport, and the level at which they can play. We are also aware of the lack of diversity in sport administration and the charity sector. There is a long way to go.
Levelling the Playing Field
As an international organisation founded on a deeply-held belief that “changing the world” is possible, we believe there is a significant need for initiatives which intentionally cultivate compassion and promote a more socially-conscious approach to sport. In a recent project, we helped a community sports centre in Edinburgh develop a “diversity dashboard;” the staff now report to their board every quarter on diversity and inclusion, just as they would report on finances. On our mentoring programs, young athletes work with their mentors to educate themselves on social issues and take concrete steps that aim to make a difference.
We want to ensure diversity, equity and advocacy are at the forefront of our conversations and programming. We aim to do this by:
We realise this is a continuous process and we take these immediate steps with open hearts, humility and optimism.
We have identified resources you may find helpful, including how to be an ally, reading lists and these books for children and would welcome additional recommendations to share with our team or programme participants.
How We See Change
TAP was founded by a group of athletes, mindfulness teachers, clinical psychologists and social justice advocates who re-imagined athlete development. We believed it should include deep, emotional work that can not only aid sporting performance, but can also nurture mental wellbeing, and help cultivate a more compassionate society. We have been inspired by humanitarian-athletes like Maya Moore, Arthur Ashe, and Muhammad Ali, who passionately fought for social justice and recognised their athletic achievements represented something far greater than sport.
As leaders in bringing mindfulness to sport, we are aware of our responsibility to listen, reflect, act from a place of kindness, and help others to do the same. This will involve the discipline, passion and vulnerability that we have honed through sport.
Justice through sport will be the greatest victory athletes can achieve, and we are excited to play our part.