Equality, unity, and opportunity. These are three of the fundamental principles that make athletic competition great.
These values are expressed normally in athletic matches, but not always in society. That’s where the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality steps in to help bridge the gap.
The non-profit organization was founded by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross. The organization has helped bridge the gap between those three principles. Ross believes equality, unity, and opportunity should be reflected within our everyday life. Ross believes that his organization can help create bring a change in the current climate that our nation deals with now.
“On game day people come together to root for their team regardless of their background…through that we believe we can cause unity within our society” said Jocelyn Benson. “What sports does is it give people the room to have a conversation to listen to each other and say we each cheer for the Dolphins, tell me about your background and I’ll tell you about mine.”
In a mere two years of presence within the community, Ross’ efforts have paid off. Now it’s being nationally recognized. Due to Ross’ works with RISE, on July 11 in Los Angeles, RISE will receive ESPN’s Stuart Scotty ENSPIRE award at the third annual Sports Humanitarian Awards. In addition to the award, ROSS will also receive a $100,000 grant from ESPN because of the organization’s direction in changing race relations and pushing social development.
At the Sports Humanitarian Awards event, ESPN will honor different sporting leagues, sports franchises, individuals and members of the sporting community which are using their influence to help create and leave a lasting positive influence on among the population. More specifically, the award which RISE is getting is named after one of ESPN’s legendary on-air talents, Stuart Scott.
“We are honored that RISE is a recipient of the Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award, named after a man synonymous with bringing all walks of life together through the unifying power of sports,” said Stephen M. Ross. “I want to thank all of the players, sports executives and league officials who have united to make a positive impact around such an important issue.”
The award stands for people and organizations that used a creative approach to helping others with the power of sports. Ross himself took a risk by starting RISE but it paid off. The organization has a number of high-profile athletes and sports executives under its umbrella. Athletes like Draymond Green, Larry Fitzgerald, LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and Ryan Tannehill have also helped.
With the help of these athletes and under the vision and leadership of Ross, the program has spread like wildfire. After it’s beginning in October 2015, RISE has expanded into states throughout the country. Some of these states include Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, New York, Michigan, New Jersey, Texas and Washington D.C. Their leadership program has reached over 30,000 students, coaches, and athletic staff. As well as over 100 professional athletes. Additionally, getting fan support is huge and RISE managed to also have over 25,000 fans engage. Let’s also not forget nearly the 12,000 people who pledged.
“They were groundbreaking and got ahead of race relation conversations that needed to be had,” Miami Dolphins safety Michael Thomas said. “For RISE to give these athletes a platform to voice their opinion on how they were feeling was awesome. The nation really got behind it and this is something that will continue to grow.”