Borah Symposium to Address Relationship Between Sports, War and Peace

Thursday, January 10 2013

MOSCOW, Idaho – Looking deeper into the international landscape and the concept of sport, this spring’s University of Idaho Borah Symposium will focus on Beyond the Battlefield: Sports, War and Peace. Events will take place April 1-3 on the Moscow campus and are free to the public.

“With the recent summer Olympic Games in London, including performances by former Vandal student-athletes, we felt this theme would particularly resonate with our local campuses and communities, bringing a deeper, more global perspective to the role of sports in contemporary society,” said Lysa Salsbury, coordinator for programs for the University of Idaho Women's Center and co-chair of the Borah committee. “All of our invited speakers for the 2013 Borah Symposium are ambassadors for the effective use of sports in peace-making and community development in an international context. Their work is both groundbreaking and life-changing, and we’re very excited to have the honor of hosting them at the University of Idaho this spring.”

The symposium will focus on the aggression of sporting games, which sometimes escalates into conflict, the cultural accessibility of sports and their abilities to transform aggression into healthy competition on the field.

“Sports and war share a deep political, social, and cultural connection,” said Salsbury. “Both the sports field and the battlefield are places where national aggression and patriotism is not only legitimized, but encouraged and glorified. Soldiers and athletes alike are representatives of a nation’s status and power. However, sports also can present a successful alternative to war, providing an opportunity for competition without bloodshed, conflict without casualties.”

The symposium opens Monday, April 1 with the screening of “One Goal,” an inspirational documentary about a soccer team formed by young, African amputees. Though they lost limbs as a result of civil war, their shared passion for sports elevates them to iconic standing. Commentary by the filmmakers accompanies the movie. Curtains go up at 7 p.m. at the Student Union Building (SUB) Ballroom, 709 Deakin Avenue, Moscow. A panel discussion will follow the screening.

Panelists include Barcelona-based cultural producer, and documentary filmmaker, Sergi Agusti; Dee Malchow, vice chair of Women of Hope International, a ministry to the disabled women in Sierra Leone; and Alfred “Bankie” Mansaray, a U-Idaho alumn, a native of Sierra Leone, and employment advocate for Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area Refugee Immigration Services (RIS) Target Assistant Program in Maryland.

“Both sports and war strive to win something by defeating or establishing superiority over others who are trying to do the same. Are sports thus only a disciplined and contained form of war? Is sport only war writ small, without violence and mortality? Or do sports through discipline and competition allow for groups and individuals to strive for honor and physical achievement unavailable to the warrior,” said Ellen Kittell, associate professor of history and co-chair of the Borah Committee.

The symposium continues on Tuesday, April 2 with an afternoon panel discussion featuring several international non-governmental organizations and an evening address.

• On the panel will be representatives from Fields of Growth International, a non-profit that aims to harness the passion of the lacrosse community into positive social impact through global leadership development, service and growing the game; Right to Play, a non-profit that uses sport and play to educate and empower children and youth to overcome the effects of poverty, conflict and disease in disadvantaged communities; and Soccer Without Borders, a non-profit that addresses the lack of safe spaces where young people can play, the lack of opportunity for youth to explore social issues and community challenges, and the lock of social capital and access to potential opportunities for education, employment and personal growth among young people in underserved communities throughout the world. The panel will convene at 11 a.m. in the Student Union Building Silver/Gold Room, 709 Deakin Avenue, Moscow.

• At 7 p.m., Alexandar Wolff will present the Borah Symposium’s Plenary Address, also in Student Union Building Ballroom. Wolff has served on the staff of Sports Illustrated since 1980 and wrote a September 2011 Sports Illustrated cover story called “Sports Saves the World.” In addition to covering basketball at all levels, he has written from the Olympics, soccer’s World Cup, every Grand Slam tennis event and the Tour de France bicycle race. SI assignments have taken him to China, Cuba and Iran. His work deals with sports and culture when it comes to race, ethnicity, gender, drugs, the environment, education, youth development, business, conflict and ethics, as well as cultural themes like style, food and the media.

The symposium wraps up on Wednesday, April 3 with the Sports-and-Play Workshops during the day and the Borah Symposium Keynote Speech in the evening.

Sports-and-Play Workshops will provide an opportunity to learn more about the importance of sports and play. Workshops will run from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Kibbie Dome, 1000 Stadium Dr. in Moscow.

• The symposium will conclude with the Borah Symposium Keynote Speech by Johann Olav Koss, the founder of Right to Play, at 7 p.m. in the Student Union Building Ballroom. Koss is a four-time Olympic Gold Medalist in speed skating and made world headlines when he won three Gold Medals at the 1994 Lillehammer Games in the 1,500-, 5,000- and 10,000-metre events. Over the course of his career, he broke a total of 10 world records, won three World All-round Championships, and won numerous World Cups and National Championships. Johann has dedicated himself to growing Right To Play into an internationally recognized NGO and a leader in Sport for Development, which uses sport and play to enhance the healthy physical and psycho-social development of children and to build stronger communities. Today, Right To Play develops and implements child and community development programs in more than 20 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, working with the United Nations and such other agencies as UNICEF and the World Health Organization.

For more information about the 2013 Borah Symposium, visit
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