Recap: 2013 Beyond Sport Summit

As one of the most passionate, sports-crazed cities in the world, it was only fitting that Philadelphia served as the host city for the 2013 Beyond Sport Summit last week.

“You don’t have to be here long to realize that this city loves sports,” noted Michael Burke, Managing Director of Wealth and Investment Management for Barclays (one of Beyond Sport’s global partners). “Sports is part of the DNA of Philadelphia.”

The goal of Beyond Sport – which was founded in 2008 – is to highlight how athletic endeavors can be used to benefit the greater good. During the three-day event, hundreds of organizations from around the world were honored for their work in using sports as a catalyst for positive social change.

“We shouldn’t talk about sport as an opportunity [for social change],” said NBA Commissioner David Stern during a panel on the intersection of sports and politics. “We should talk about it as an obligation.”

Attendees spent the first two days of the Beyond Sport Summit visiting a variety of local organizations that are making a difference in the community via sport. On the final day of the conference, Jeffrey Lurie – whose Philadelphia Eagles were named Beyond Sport’s Team of the Year in 2011 – provided the opening remarks, and several others with ties to the city had a chance to offer their views, including Eagles’ co-owner Christina Weiss Lurie, Philadelphia 76ers’ CEO Scott O’Neil, and former Philadelphia mayor (and PA Governor) Ed Rendell.

“Sports has a unifying effect that nothing else in society has,” noted Rendell.

Each of the major local sports teams are ahead of the curve in terms of giving back to the community. The Eagles Youth Partnership provides free vision care and educational programming to more than 50,000 children in the Delaware Valley each year. The Philadelphia 76ers, meanwhile, recently announced their “Sixers Strong” initiative that will result in all Sixers’ employees investing a minimum of 76 hours of community service during the 2013-14 season.

The Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation provides free equipment, ice time and coaching to more than 3,000 inner-city children, while the Phillies Phestival has raised more than $14.3 million for The ALS Association since its inception in 1984.

“The courage of one,” said Lurie, “can only change the world when it’s united with the courage of everyone else.”