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Historical Note

Scope and Content Note

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Collection
Title: Center for the Study of Sport in Society records
Dates:1978-2003 (1985-1998 bulk)
Call Number:A56

Historical Note

The Center for the Study of Sport in Society (CSSS) at Northeastern University (NU) was founded in June 1984. The first academic center in the country dedicated to sports and their role in society, CSSS was the brainchild of Dr. Richard Lapchick (REL) and Richard Astro, Dean of NU's College of Arts and Sciences. Initially, the CSSS had a triple focus: to offer a degree completion program for athletes, to provide an outreach program for junior and senior high school students, and to lobby in support of higher academic standards for athletes. At the opening press conference, Dean Astro described the Center as "a pioneering effort on the part of an American University to address abuses in athletics.” REL was hired as the director of the CSSS and served until 2001.

One of CSSS’s first projects was to reform academic abuses of student-athletes in high school and college athletics, mainly through a degree completion program. The degree completion program led to the formation of the National Consortium for Academics and Sports (NCAS) in 1985 by 11schools. By July 2002, over 218 colleges and universities were members.

As the NCAS evolved independently, the programs of CSSS also expanded. Its mission became "to increase awareness of sport and its relation to society, and to develop programs that identify problems, offer solutions, and promote the benefits of sport." Its next emphasis was on sports-related outreach programs for youth. Such programs included the National Student Athlete Day of the NCAS, Project TEAMWORK, Mentors in Violence Prevention, Hoop Dreams and More, Urban Youth Sports, the Jo Jo White Growth League, and Athletes in Service to America, all described in further detail below.

CSSS also was concerned with race and gender in sports. CSSS published the Racial and Gender Report Card annually between 1989 and 2002. The Racial Report Card examined the racial and gender hiring practices of the NBA, WNBA, NFL, NHL, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, and the NCAA. CSSS also developed the Teamwork Leadership Institute as a diversity training program for colleges and professional teams; TEAMWORK South Africa was a model of Project TEAMWORK in South Africa during and after Apartheid.

Other aspects of CSSS’s work included publishing an academic journal, the Journal of Sport and Social Issues, and one for broader audiences, Arena Review. CSSS also conducted an annual survey of college athletics, known as the College Student Athlete Project (CSAP) between 1990 and 1993.

A major publicity event for CSSS is its annual awards banquet, The True Heroes of Sport. During the event, CSSS inducts a new member into its Hall of Fame, which honors people from the sports world who have made an extraordinary contribution to society. Members include Muhammad Ali (1994), "Red" Auerbach (1995), Wilma Rudolph (1996), Jackie Robinson (1997), Arthur Ashe (1998), Rafer Johnson (1999), Bill Russell (2000), and Dick Schaap (2002). Schaap, who passed away in 2002, was the banquet’s master of ceremonies for seven years. In 1987, he won the Excellence in Sports Journalism Award, and after his death the award was renamed the Dick Schaap Excellence in Sports Journalism Award. The Sports Journalism Award is presented in conjunction with NU's School of Journalism and annually awards outstanding achievement in both broadcast and print media. Past winners have included Howard Cosell (1986), Ted Koppel (1988), Will McDonough (1989), Bob Costas (1992), and the ESPN network (1994, 1997, 1999). The New England Hero Award was first given in 1998 and honors a male and female from New England who have positively promoted sports through sportsmanship, community service, or other courageous achievements. The Corporate Goodwill Award honors businesses or organizations that donated money to CSSS, such as Reebok International (1997), Disney's Wide World of Sports (1998), and Robert and Myra Kraft of the New England Patriots (1999).

In 1984, a National Advisory Board was formed to provide counsel for CSSS. In 2000, a Development Council was formed to raise funds and determine goals for CSSS.

Richard Lapchick

A nationally recognized expert on racism in sports and in the fight against apartheid, Richard Lapchick (REL) was the founder and first director of CSSS. He is the son of NBA Hall of Famer Joseph Lapchick, a Boston Celtic, basketball coach of St. John’s University and the New York Knicks, and sports reformer who helped to integrate the NBA. During REL’s tenure at CSSS and because of the ten books, more than 450 articles, and over 2,600 speeches and television appearances, REL became internationally known for his work dealing with racism, gender equality, and abuses in sports. REL has received numerous awards and honors, including seven honorary degrees and being named one of the 100 most powerful people in sports by the Sporting News for six consecutive years. He received his B.A. from St. John’s University in 1967 and his Ph.D. in International Race Relations from the University of Denver in 1973. In 1970-1978, he taught in the Political Science Department at Virginia Wesleyan College, and from 1978 to1984 he was a Senior Liaison Officer at the United Nations.

In 2001, REL accepted a position at the DeVos Sports Business Management Program at the University of Central Florida and became the Director Emeritus at the CSSS. In 2002, REL launched the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports there, which has published the Racial and Gender Report Card since 2003 and worked with NCAS to conduct diversity training to sports organizations. REL also continued as the president and CEO of NCAS.

National Consortium for Academics and Sports (NCAS)

Led by NU, NCAS was founded in 1985 by 11 schools, California State University at Long Beach, Georgetown University, New York University, St. John's University, Seton Hall University, Temple University, University of Denver, University of California at Berkeley, University of San Francisco, and William Patterson College. NCAS aimed to keep “the student in student-athlete." The 11 schools agreed to readmit scholarship athletes who had attended their institutions since 1975 and allow them to finish their degrees. In return, the athletes performed community outreach for the schools.

In 1992, NCAS became a separate non-profit organization, and REL remained the president and CEO. As of July 2002, NCAS had 218 members in the United States and Canada with six regional offices. In 2001, the national office moved from the CSSS in Boston to the University of Central Florida in Orlando, FL, where REL had relocated, and CSSS became the headquarters for the northeast regional office.

The mission of NCAS has evolved "to help create a better society by focusing on educational attainment and using the power and appeal of sport to positively affect social change." NCAS has five main outreach programs based at CSSS: Mentors in Violence Prevention Program, Project TEAMWORK, the Degree Completion Program, National Student Athlete Day, and the Teamwork Leadership Institute.

Degree Completion Program

The Degree Completion Program is a criterion for membership in NCAS. Member schools must readmit academically eligible scholarship athletes who left school before they graduated and provide them aid equal to their original scholarship. In return, former athletes must provide at least 10 hours a week to their schools’ community service and outreach programs. The program also provides for athletes to complete their degrees at another member school. In this case neither school is obliged to pay the athlete’s tuition, but are asked to transfer credits and ease the financial burden to the athlete. The Degree Completion Program has helped over 21,000 athletes return to school, and more than 12,000 to graduate. These athletes have completed almost 9.5 million hours of community service through NCAS outreach programs and reached over 9 million children.

Teamwork Leadership Institute

The Teamwork Leadership Institute (TLI) was created by REL in 1990. TLI provides diversity training to organizations across the country, the majority of which are college and university administrations and athletic departments. Using sports-related principles such as teamwork, TLI workshops help people better understand cultural prejudices through open discussion and interaction. Since its inception, the NBA and more than 125 colleges and universities have used TLI training.

National Student Athlete Day

Since 1987, NCAS has celebrated April 6th as National Student Athlete Day (NSAD). NSAD honors high school and college student-athletes who have excelled in the classroom, on the field, and within their communities. It also recognizes parents, teachers, coaches and school systems supporting these student-athletes. NSAD was established by NCAS and CSSS with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the National Federation of State High School Associations. In 2002, NSAD honored over 300,000 student-athletes around the country.

Giant Steps Awards

Since 1988, the Giant Steps Awards have been presented annually in conjunction with NSAD and been given to people "who exemplify the ideals of balancing academics, athletics, life pursuits, and giving back to the community through the spirit of athletics." Nominations are open to the public, and awards are made in the following categories: Courageous Student-Athlete; Civic Leader; Athletic Administrator; Coaches; Community or Academic Organizations; and Parents, Teachers, and Schools.

Athletes in Service to America (AIS)

Begun in 1995, AIS is an AmeriCorps program designed to reduce violence and conflict in inner-city schools. The AIS program is headquartered at CSSS, with three other regional offices at Canisius College (Buffalo, NY), University of Kentucky (Lexington, KY), and Eckerd College (St. Petersburg). Under AIS, current or former college student-athletes work in inner-city schools and provide children with conflict training and academic support. In exchange for 1,700 hours of service per year, the athletes receive living wages and college scholarships. Between 1995 and 2003, the AIS program has had almost 450 members providing 560,000 hours of service in urban schools.

College Student Athlete Project (CSAP)

CSAP was a three-year project in which colleges and universities conducted self-studies based on a model developed at CSSS. CSAP was designed to improve the integrity of intercollegiate athletic programs by helping schools to determine the impact of intercollegiate athletic programs on the academic and social development of student-athletes and the educational missions of the universities. The program was funded by the Fund for the Improvement of Post secondary Education (FIPSE) and was offered at no charge to the participating schools. The institutional self-study focused on finding the relationship between a university's athletic program and its academic and administrative offices. Results indicated the degree to which an athletic department adhered to the school’s educational mission. Fourteen schools participated in the first two years, including NU, Texas A and M, and the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.

Disability Sport Research Initiative (DSRI)

DSRI was established in 2000 to help disabled athletes gain better access to the sports world. Through research, advocacy, and outreach programs, DSRI aims to bring more opportunities, respect, and equality to people with disabilities who wish to participate in sports, whether athletically or in an administrative capacity. In 2002, DSRI brought a new award to ESPN, the Best Disabled Athlete. In addition, to complement the annual Racial and Gender Report Card, DSRI is conducting research for a Disability Report Card.

Hoop Dreams and More

From 1994 to 1997, Hoop Dreams and More was an educational outreach program based on the documentary film Hoop Dreams, which followed two promising basketball players from inner-city Chicago through high school as they aspired to college scholarships and eventually the NBA. Kartemquin Educational Films asked CSSS to be the educational outreach partner for the film. CSSS developed a program that emphasized education as a priority for inner-city youth, creating a teacher’s guide and student playbook based on the issues and challenges found in the Hoop Dreams film. The initiative also trained teachers and established partnerships with colleges.

The Jo Jo White Growth League

Conducted in 1997, Jo Jo White Growth League was based on a program in New York developed by Boston Celtics legend Jo Jo White. The League emphasized teamwork in the classroom and on the basketball court. Over 200 sixth through eighth graders participated in the program.

Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP)

MVP is a prevention and education program that takes a unique approach to the role of the student-athlete in gender violence. Created in 1993 by former CSSS employee Jackson Katz, it was one of the first programs to teach student-athletes how to prevent rape and sexual assault. MVP teaches athletes that by acting as powerful and influential bystanders when they see abusive situations, they can help to end them by confronting the abuser and showing them what is wrong. There are three levels of implementation: the youth level is sponsored by CSSS, the college level by NCAS, and the professional by both CSSS and NCAS. By 2003, the MVP team had presented to over 80 secondary schools in Massachusetts, almost 60 colleges and universities nationally, and numerous professional teams.

Project TEAMWORK

Project TEAMWORK began in 1990 with a team of three former professional athletes (Lynn Dawson, Keith Lee, and Luis Tiant) and one Olympic gold medal winner (Holly Metcalf), among others. Speaking to large audiences, the team educated young people about the dangers of racism, prejudice, and other forms of discrimination. Eventually TEAMWORK evolved into an interactive program in which former professional and college athletes guided middle and high school students through workshops on discrimination and conflict resolution. Once students completed the TEAMWORK program, they became members of the Human Rights Squad. To maintain membership, students had to take part in at least two activities that showed their promise to reduce violence in their schools and communities. Students in the Human Rights Squad were given awards annually at an NU forum.

Project TEAMWORK is one of the most successful and recognized program of CSSS, having worked with over 160,000 young students. In 1993, a study by public opinion analyst Lou Harris called it "America’s most successful violence prevention program." Also in that year, it received the Peter F. Drucker Award for the most innovative non-profit program in the social sector. Two years later, in 1995, President Clinton recognized it as a model violence prevention program. The success of TEAMWORK also led to an offshoot program, TEAMWORK-South Africa.

TEAMWORK-South Africa (TSA)

In 1992, two years before apartheid ended, REL and Kunle Raji began TSA in collaboration with the National Olympic Committee of South Africa (NOCSA), the African National Congress, and the National and Olympic Sports Congress of South Africa (NOSC). Officially launched in August 1993 with support from the NBA and the NBA Players Association, TSA used the TEAMWORK model to help young South Africans deal with the end of apartheid through the aid of sports. TSA provided young South Africans with access to sports facilities on condition that they become racially sensitive, stay in school, not use drugs or alcohol, and avoid gangs and violence. TSA also donated sports equipment, sponsored trips to South Africa for American college teams, and offered South African athletes scholarships to American schools. The NBA also played a major role in promoting TSA. In 1993 and 1994, the NBA sponsored trips of players, coaches, and officials to South Africa, where they offered clinics and exhibition games for over 1,000 children.

Urban Youth Sports (UYS)

UYS was created in 1997 to provide inner-city youth of Boston with the same access to sports that suburban children have. By giving inner-city youth the opportunity to participate on sports teams, the program hoped that the youth would stay off the streets and away from drugs and violence as they grew older. Initiated in November 1997 by the City of Boston and UYS, the Boston Youth Sports Congress is a major aspect of UYS, addressing issues ranging from sporting facilities and to urban sports for girls.
Chronology
June 1984Center for the Study of Sport in Society (CSSS) founded with Richard Lapchick as director
1985National Consortium for Academics and Sports (NCAS) founded in conjunction with 11 other national universities
1985First Annual Awards Banquet held and first Excellence in Sports Journalism Award given
1987First National Student Athlete Day held on April 6th
1988First Giant Step Awards given at the Annual Banquet
1989First Racial Report Card published
1990Project TEAMWORK began
1990Teamwork Leadership Institute created
1990College Student Athlete Project began, lasting three years
1992National Consortium for Academics in Sports became independent from NU
1993Project TEAMWORK-South Africa launched
1993Mentors in Violence Prevention program created
1994Hoop Dreams and More program began
1994CSSS created a Hall of Fame with its first inductee, Muhammad Ali
1995Athletes in Service to America began as an AmeriCorps program
1995JoJo White Growth League began
1996CSSS opened a satellite office at Disney World in Orlando, Florida
1997Urban Youth Sports program created
2001Richard Lapchick became director emeritus of the CSSS
2003Peter Roby named the new director of the CSSS