The question lies here, do sports create an effective platform for enacting real world change within a community on the local, national and international level?
“The goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”
While some might argue that this goal while with good intentions, hasn’t been nearly as successful as it may seem. After all, despite the existence and growth of the Modern Olympic Games over the past 120 years yet we still commonly face issues of discrimination, enmity and war. On the flip side, the Olympic movement has also brought those who might otherwise be enemies together on the world stage to share a friendly spirit of competition. So where does sport truly lie in the role it takes toward creating a positive change within the world?
In 1982, the first of now man,y large-scale LGBTQ+ sporting events took place in San Francisco. The brainchild of one Dr. Tom Waddell, an 1968 Olympic Decathlete had organized the first ever “Gay Games” a large, quadrennial, gay and lesbian multi-sport event that sought to
“Foster and augment the self-respect of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and all sexually-fluid or gender-variant individuals (LGBT+) throughout the world and to promote respect and understanding from others, primarily by organizing and administering the international quadrennial sport and cultural event known as the “Gay Games.”
While Gay Games and most other LGBT+ sport events have not taken any specific stance or action on political issues, they have played a significant role in inspiring and empowering generations of LGBTQ+ people to live and thrive as an individual. Simply by creating an inclusive environment that offers the opportunity for participation and to achieve their personal best, LGBT+ sports have made a big impact on where our LGBTQ+ community stands today.
Can communities from countries like Russia, Kenya, Uganda, Jamaica and China benefit from participation and representation in Gay Games and other similar, legitimate LGBTQ+ sporting events? You bet they can. With homophobia, transphobia and other forms of discrimination still very much prevalent, those communities need the opportunity and support to take part in the games. Gay Games offers a welcoming, inclusive environment that has inspired and empowered LGBTQ+ youth for generations to be more involved. The same is still very much true today and by increasing the participation and representation from countries and communities where LGBTQ+ people face significant harassment and prosecution. We can continue to inspire and empower them to return home with the courage to take a stand against the discrimination and harassment they face every day.