A Nobel Prize in Sport? – A Worthy Conversation
The Nobel Prize currently recognizes significant international contributions in categories of Peace, Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Literature and Economics. The time has come to consider adding a new category – a Nobel Prize in Sport. Before dismissing the idea, consider this – sport is truly a universal language. One can go to any nation in the world and see sport in some form. Beyond the goals and gold medals, sport is also a platform for social change. In the words of Nelson Mandela, “Sport has the power to change the world.” A Nobel Prize in Sport would focus on how sport can be utilized in the context of peace, development, and human rights.
When one thinks of sport, the first images that often come to mind are of professional footballers or Olympians. In fact and essence, sport is much broader than this. In 2003, the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Sport for Development and Peace defined sport, for the purposes of development, as “all forms of physical activity that contribute to physical fitness, mental well-being and social interaction, such as play, recreation, organized or competitive sport, and indigenous sports and games.”
The authors of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development acknowledged the role and significance of sport, saying, “Sport is also an important enabler of sustainable development. We recognize the growing contribution of sport to the realization of development and peace in its promotion of tolerance and respect the contributions it makes to the empowerment of women and of young people, individuals and communities as well as to health, education and social inclusion objectives.”
Given this international recognition of the power of sport, here is a list of potential criteria to begin the discussion about what a Nobel Prize in Sport laureate nominee might look like:
1. An individual or organization that has contributed to peace, development and human rights through sport to foster and build global systems change in a particular area or areas of work
2. An individual or organization that has created or developed new and innovative tools, resources, or knowledge to address global issues or problems utilizing the lens of sport and peace, development and human rights
3. An individual or organization that has demonstrated consistent, genuine, and long-term commitment and dedication to using sport as a vehicle for peace, development and human rights.
4. An individual or organization that has worked collaboratively in a unified and mobilizing fashion with other individuals or organizations toward achieving a broader goal and mission for the power of sport to promote peace, development and human rights.
5. An individual or organization with the capacity to articulate and translate the impact of utilizing sport for peace, development and human rights to a global audience across cultures and communities.
People or organizations meeting these criteria no doubt exist many places in the world and are already doing the great work required to merit this recognition. These criteria offer a starting point for conversations on giving sport a place in the honorable Nobel Prize realm. Given the global impact and influence of sport, it is a conversation worth considering.