“I love the locker room. Smells like potential.
– Coach Ted Lasso (favorite protagonist of Apple TV’s latest breakout hit)
Ted Lasso’s rapid ascent and positive infusion into our cultural zeitgeist reinforced what I already knew: Coaches are often an overlooked force for good, and we must do more to recognize their unique power and impact on positive life shaping.
As a former varsity athlete, I have long known the power of coaches, but my current enthusiasm stems from a more recent journey of discovery and transformation with my personal Ted Lasso, my friend and colleague Eric Reveno, a former Stanford University player and assistant coach who coaches the men’s basketball team. at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Like Lasso, Coach Rev looks at the dressing room and sees the potential of his players – not only as competitors, but also as compassionate, caring and capable community members and community leaders. Last year, Coach Rev added a new element to his coaching focus: civil rights.
In June 2020, following the assassination of George Floyd and a public outcry for social justice reform, Coach Reverend took on a personal mission to help his players register to vote. But his efforts did not end with his own team. Coach Roar was the driving force behind #AllVoteNoPlay, an initiative that encouraged athletes to take election day off from training or games so players can vote and volunteer. With the support of the National Basketball Coaches Association and the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, over 1,100 coaches eventually signed the #AllVoteNoPlay vow.
Coach Roar and I met last year as I was working on my personal mission to change the way we involve young people in the voting process. I saw a future clouded by growing divisions, a costly and alienating political process that did not support a healthy, lasting democracy. As a designer, educator, and futurist, I was curious about how the techniques of design, empathy, and imagination can change the voting experience.
Together with my colleagues, I created the Design Vote program, which aims to transform apathy into civic engagement through experiential learning and practice. Our goal is to help young voters develop the confidence and ability to approach voting as a lifelong skill that can be developed through deliberate practice. Looking for ways to support his new #AllVoteNoPlay initiative, Reverend invited his students to vote for the design.
2020 itself was a special moment in time, and as the immediacy of a busy presidential election cycle faded away, a new set of questions emerged: How can we ensure that young people continue to learn and participate in our democracy? Who can help them understand their central role in shaping the future? Who in the lives of young people is trusted and mentored to deliver the necessary messages of citizen participation without being considered “boring”, “preaching” or “doing others”.
The answer is clear. As the reverend told me, “It’s time for coaches to teach citizenship.”
The need to educate young people about their personal power and free will at every moment of civic life – from helping a neighbor to voting in the city council to voting for the largest ballot of all ballots every four years. Research shows that civic awareness and participation not only helps young people find a voice in their own communities, but also enhances their success and life satisfaction. Civil rights and educated youth are more likely to complete their education, better prepared for future careers, show greater empathy and tolerance for different points of view, and are more likely to return to their communities through volunteering at a later age.
So on November 2nd, we are distributing these messages throughout the NCAA. Every coach, every team, regardless of the sport and division, can take part in #AllVoteNoPlay. It’s as easy as picking a civilian exercise and trying it with your team. Gathering together for a BBQ and movie night, taking an online quiz, or playing a civic tag game may not seem like an attempt to change lives, but Reverend and I believe in the power of these micro-moments to start building civic muscle. Athletes throughout their lives will need good citizenship and leadership in the community.
We look at the dressing room and see the potential.
And I hope this is just the first of many #AllVoteNoPlay days INCLUDED, not a weekend where coaches seize the moment and realize this potential.
Lisa Kay Solomon is a professor of design at Stanford University and creator of Vote by Design, an educational website designed to foster civic and political engagement among young voters. © 2021 The fulcrum. Distributed by the Tribune content agency.