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Sports - Society & Culture

Sonny Vaccaro Joins Drexel for Annual Sport for Social Change Conference

November 7, 2014

Sonny Vaccaro is a former marketing executive and college athlete advocate
Sonny Vaccaro is a former marketing executive and college athlete advocate.

Sonny Vaccaro, one of the most “influential and controversial” (Washington Post) figures in sports, will join Drexel University on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 13 – 14 as the keynote speaker for its annual Sport for Social Change Conference. The conference will feature discussions on social justice in sport, athlete’s rights, the future of the NCAA, the misappropriation of American Indian imagery in sport and youth participation in sport.

The conference is hosted by the Drexel University Sport Management Student Union (SMTSU), an undergraduate student organization, and the Department of Sport Management in the Center for Hospitality and Sport Management.

“We are delighted to be hosting some of the most influential and important thought leaders who have raised the consciousness of sport industry executives, public policy advocates, and citizens on issues of social justice and fundamental human rights in sport,” said Ellen Staurowsky, EdD, faculty advisor to the Drexel SMTSU and a professor of sport management in Drexel’s Center for Hospitality and Sport Management. “Our community will be the richer for having them contribute to our conversations and thinking on issues related to college athlete rights, racial sensitivity and the essential human right that children should have to grow up to be healthy and strong.”

The conference opens on Thursday evening with a keynote address by Vaccaro, the former marketing executive for Nike, Adidas and Reebok, who is best known for signing Michael Jordan to his first sneaker deal. The session will be moderated by Tom Farrey, reporter for ESPN and director of the Aspen Institute Sport and Society Program, which aims to convene leaders, foster dialogue, and inspire solutions that help sport serve the public interest, with a focus on the development of healthy children and communities. Vaccaro is now president of Vaccaro Sports Partnerships. He is founding chairman of The Roundball Classic and ABCD Camp, his signature summer showcase for high school basketball players, which he started in 1984.

Day two of the conference will include further discussions with Vaccaro on the NCAA and the sport industry more generally, and with Farrey on the topic of physical literacy. In addition, Suzan Shown Harjo, a poet, writer, lecturer, curator and policy advocate for American Indian rights, who is of Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee descent, will discuss “The Washington R-Word: Racial Politics, Legal Challenges and Social Harms.” A panel on the sustainability movement and food in sports organizations also will be included.

“When Drexel SMTSU envisioned its first conference, it knew it wanted to create discussion around the sport industry about topics that could make a difference,” said Kevin Murray, president of the SMTSU. “Sport for Social Change 2013 began that discussion, and we know that in 2014 those conversations will continue and the impact will grow. Sports mean so much to so many, but how can we convert that passion to change? That is what we should all be asking ourselves.”

The event is free and open to the public. To register, click here.

Full Schedule:

Thursday, Nov. 13 at 6 p.m.
Mitchell Auditorium, Bossone Research Enterprise Center
3140 Market Street, Philadelphia

A Conversation with Sonny Vaccaro:
Reflections on Life After O’Bannon v. the NCAA
Moderated by Tom Farrey, ESPN reporter and director of the

Aspen Institute Sport and Society Program

Friday, Nov. 14
Paul Peck Research Building, Academic Bistro, 6th Floor
101 N. 33rd St., Philadelphia

9:45 a.m.
Welcome and opening remarks

10 a.m.
The Aspen Institute’s Project Play & Promotion of Physical Literacy
Tom Farrey, ESPN reporter and director of the Aspen Institute Sport and Society Program

11 a.m.
College Sport at a Crossroads: Perspectives on the Demise of NCAA
Sonny Vaccaro, former marketing executive and college athlete advocate

12 p.m.
Lunch

1 p.m.
The Washington R-Word: Racial Politics, Legal Challenges & Social Harms
Suzan Shown Harjo, poet, writer, lecturer, curator and policy advocate
for American Indian rights

2 p.m.
Sustainability Movement and Food in Sport Organizations Panel
Speaker confirmations pending

2:50 p.m.
Closing remarks

3 p.m.
Closing reception and networking event

The first annual conference took place in October 2013 and included discussions on topics including the responsibilities of athletes to give back and be role models, youth development via sport, LGBT issues in sport, access to sport for disabled athletes and safety issues in sport. Special guests included Eric Zillmer, PsyD, director of athletics at Drexel University; a panel from Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation including Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Jim Britt; a panel of representatives from Go! Athletes, including Executive Director Anna Aagenes and Georgetown University student-athlete Craig Cassey, Jr.; Eli Wolff, program director of the Sport and Development Project at Brown University; and Patrick Hruby, journalist at Sports on Earth. 

About the Drexel University Sport Management Student Union
The Drexel University Sport Management Student Union is a student-run organization that was established in 2010 by Drexel Sport Management student Kevin Giordano. The organization supplements sport management studies with a four pillar mission touching on sports industry education, professional development, networking and personal development. Currently overseeing the Drexel SMTSU are five elected officers and a four-person advisory board including faculty adviser Ellen Staurowsky, EdD.

Media Contact:

Alex McKechnie

news@drexel.edu

215-895-2705