Having a social impact

May 2020

How everyone in sport needs to set an example

While there are lots of opportunities to celebrate the highs in sport, we tend to spend less time contemplating its social impact. Recent news stories have brought the issue of the social impact of sport to the fore though.

While he was Sports Minister, Nigel Adams spoke out about the dependency of football on sponsorship from gambling companies, highlighting the effect of gambling on society.

Top tennis star Roger Federer has faced criticism, firstly that he failed to speak up for lower-ranked players when air quality at the Australian Open in January deteriorated as a result of the bushfires, which he refuted.

He has also faced criticism from climate activists – Greta Thunberg included – due to his partnership with Swiss company Credit Suisse, who they say have invested a vast amount of money into fossil fuels. He did put his money where his mouth is though, by pledging $250,000 Australian dollars to help the Australian bushfire relief fund, along with fellow tennis star Rafael Nadal.

All this goes to show that the actions of stars like Roger Federer do have a social impact across the world.

Their reach is so wide that they have an obligation to not only talk about issues that really matter – equality and climate change, for example - but also to champion them.

“As the father of four young children and a fervent supporter of universal education, I have a great deal of respect and admiration for the youth climate movement, and I am grateful to young climate activists for pushing us all to examine our behaviours and act on innovative solutions. We owe it to them and ourselves to listen." - Roger Federer

Practise what you preach and be proactive

Anyone who’s in a high profile role –in sport or elsewhere – needs to understand their responsibility to set a good example. One such person is Deborah Meaden who revealed her green lifestyle, which includes taking only one flight last year.

There is positivity though, Adam Bradford is a great example of someone who has seen the social impact of an issue and done something about it.

With his dad, a former gambling addict, he set up the Safer Online Gambling Group. Their aim is to make gambling safer, to provide support to addicts and raise awareness of the damage gambling addiction can do.

It’s initiatives like these that will allow all of us to reap the rewards of a better, safer and more responsible world in the future.

Sport and community goes hand-in-hand

It’s clear that sport and community goes hand-in-hand. The Kick It Out campaign to challenge and remove discrimination is a great example of an initiative that demonstrates English leadership, and uses the power of sport to change things for the better. But sadly, the fact that England footballers are still being racially abused shows there are still issues.

This incident inBulgaria last year is a case in point. Staying with football, and in terms of the debate on environmentalism, which Premier League club will be the first to be carbon neutral?

League Two club Forest Green Rovers have made a good start. Despite their low profile, they are known as the world’s greenest football club, putting sustainability at the heart of everything they do. Initiatives such as using solar panels and offering a vegan match day menu (when we are allowed in to watch matches!) make them a great example of sport taking a lead.