Initiative uses sports for social justice

Last semester, black players on the University of Missouri’s football team called for the university president to resign from the administration after slowly responding to a number of race-related incidents on campus.

A campus-wide initiative at the University is hoping to also bring sports into the discussion of social justice, but with collaboration of university organizations.

We Are One Team is an initiative that “brings together a strong group of advocates for positive social change who are united by their mutual love of sport,” according to their Facebook page.

President and doctoral student, Yannick Kluch said when he first came to the United States from Germany to participate in the master’s program, he noticed how major sports were in the U.S.

“We don’t have sports in college or high school,” Kluch said. With an academic background in feminist studies and a love of sports already, he decided to combine his two passions.

“Our goal is to promote social justice by using sport,” he said. “Sports can be a very meaningful place to start discussions of gender equality or other social justice issues.”

According to their identity statement and vision, WA1T uses sports as a platform to not only raise awareness about social injustices and promoting inclusiveness, but also hopes to bridge and create friendships between stereotyped groups on campus.

The idea took form in January 2015, but became active in the fall and has been a productive initiative ever since it launched. WA1T has 12 different collaborators, including the Women’s Center, BGSU Athletics and the Intrafraternity and Panhellenic Greek Councils.

“Everybody was really excited about it,” Kluch said. “We want this to be successful at BGSU … We want to take it to other campuses too. We really (don’t) want this to be a one year thing.”

The initiative has had events already both this semester and fall semester, and is currently holding a year long photography campaign for the initiative.

Last semester, WA1T held a panel discussion and speaker event called “What Does it Mean to be a Transgender Athlete?” where 160 people attended to hear University cross country member Brent Darah speak about his transition and how it has impacted his athletic career.

Currently, WA1T is having events all through the month of March for Women’s History Month, including more panels and speakers.

Kluch emphasized that people don’t have to love sports in order to be involved with the initiative.

“You don’t have to be crazy about sports to be part of We Are One Team. Our message is that as Falcons, we are all one team.”

WA1T’s next event for Women’s History Month will be Wednesday, March 16.

To find out more about We Are One Team, visit their Facebook page.

This article has been edited by the original author.
This article was originally published in the independent student publication, The BG News, which can be found here.