My Experience at SIS

           Although my time here at Sport in Society has been brief, the skills, information and lessons that I have learned have been plentiful. Upon embarking on my summer internship, here at S.I.S., I was hopeful and ambitious, excited to learn about the world of non-profits and sport. And in just two short months I earned a certificate of completion at the Mentors in Violence Prevention Institute, completed a photographic documentary on sport-based youth development organizations in Boston, built relationships with my fellow interns, learned about professional development, and so much more.

            Participating in the M.V.P. training program allowed me to enhance my knowledge of how to address, stop and be sensitive about men’s violence towards women. Upon beginning the program I was a little bit reserved. I felt as if the issue of men’s violence towards women was blatantly obvious; it’s wrong and you shouldn’t do it. Yet throughout the training I began to realize all the different complications and “gray areas” of the topic and how difficult, not only, is it to completely stop men’s violence towards women, but also how hard it can be to even talk about the issue. Being in a safe and open environment with people from so many different backgrounds allowed me to see many different sides of the issue and helped me sympathize with them. As a fairly shy individual I was very nervous when I heard that we, the participants, would be facilitating our own conversations on the final day of training. Yet, when my time came to facilitate the task came much easier than expected, as I had learned from our own facilitators how to efficiently tackle the job. Overall, the M.V.P. institute was a great learning experience for me and I am very happy that it was a part my internship.

            As summer interns, we were all encouraged to create our own project, based upon a subject which appealed to our own interests. I found it difficult at first to come up my own project without any sort of restrictions. Finally, I decided that I would research the local Division 1 school’s adherence to Title IX, particularly the schools’ distributions of athletic scholarships. When I discovered this research had already been completed, I became a bit discouraged. Then I decided upon a project that involved my love of sports and my hobby of photography. I concluded that I would set out to create a photographic documentary promoting sport-based youth development organizations in the Boston area.

            The creation of my photographic documentary proved to be a bit more difficult than I had expected. It took weeks for me to get in contact and set up shooting dates with the organizations. I thought I was going to be able to include more groups into my project but I ended up only shooting three; Tenacity, America Scores: Boston, and Metro Lacrosse. Another obstacle that I encountered was my lack of experience photographing sporting events. I have had experience shooting stills but had never really shot moving objects or people. It was a bit challenging to photograph some of these events because the pace was so fast and my camera was definitely not as equipped for such a task as a may have liked. In the end I compiled a group of 20 photographs from the three programs I photographed. Editing and arranging these photos proved to be a very tedious and time-consuming undertaking. However, in the end I think that the project turned out to be pretty decent. I definitely wish that I had camera wish a faster shutter to have captured better action shots but I think that I did an alright job with the tools that I had.

            Overall, I really enjoyed my experience here at Sport in Society. I enjoyed learning about the organization, our partner affiliations and the world of social justice based non-profits. This internship definitely helped me realize that I would like to work within this field, perhaps for a sport-based youth development organization. My only regret is not having enough time and sufficient equipment to complete my project. 

Intern, Kate Wegener

The Summer Internship

Sport in Society offers a unique internship opportunity for high school and college students interested in the field of social justice who all share a similar passion for sports. The staff at Sport in Society is truly interested in creating a positive work environment where students can learn and grow in the professional setting. Every Thursday a professional development meeting is held for the interns and co-ops to address a variety of topics such as office etiquette, technology in the workplace, and most recently the overarching idea behind what is an internship is and why do students seek them out. Through brainstorming and conversation, the interns who currently work at Sport in Society came up with an extensive list as to why students get an internship. The list ranged from reasons such as gaining experience, learning, making connections and networking, a way to gauge interests and career paths, a resume builder, and an expectation from career centers and future employees.

Sport in society affords and supports all of these reasons to students by investing in the development of each intern by facilitating his/her interests in an individual project. The goal of the individual project is for the intern to be able to explore interests and learn what the process is like. Supervisor of all the interns, Ricardhy Grandoit, stresses the importance that the individual project should not be a means to limit the scope of work the interns do but rather to show them to the process so they can learn along the way. This is why interns are also encouraged to take part in other various aspects of the organization. Personally, in my short time here so far (about two months) the interns and I have assisted with things such as daily office work and upkeep, partaking in the MVP training institute, writing on various social media sites on behalf of the organization, and helping with anti-bullying campaigns.

Most recently, the interns at Sport in Society learned the ins and outs of agenda setting and the importance of creating and following one. Last week the interns developed an anti-bullying agenda to be taught through sport-minded games. We then traveled to The McKinley School in Boston, MA to reach out to the kids participating in their summer programs. McKinley schools provide special education for students with specific emotional, behavioral and learning needs. Through highly structured activities and an intense behavior management system that McKinley utilizes, a comprehensive and individualized education is provided for students in grades kindergarten through 12.

The objective of our visit to the McKinley school was twofold; first, we wanted the students to learn a little bit about Sport in Society as an organization. Secondly, we hoped to spread anti-bullying messages by playing both physically active and non-physically active games that followed with a conversation about the strategies employed in each game that paralleled with key lessons in the anti-bullying curriculum. When we arrived at McKinley, we found ourselves standing in front of about eight students who willingly agreed to participate. About 20 other students were scattered around the gymnasium unsure if they wanted to partake in our activities. Their resistance to our efforts was evident. The lack of attention span the kids demonstrated caused our staff to alter our agenda and skip introductions all together and jump right into playing games. We played “linking arms,” which represented the similarities among our group,” the cup game,” which struck the balance of individual success with collective teamwork, and “splat” delineating who holds the power at any one moment in the game. Each game was followed up with thought-provoking questions intended to ignite conversation regarding anti-bullying.

The course of action definitely changed throughout the time we are at McKinley. This was not because students were not enjoying themselves or responding well to our activities, but merely because their expectations did not align with our intentions. Here was a group of kids who were told to pile into a stifling hot gym in the middle of the day to do work around anti-bullying with seven strangers. These kids, who had a wide range of behavioral and attention challenges, would have much rather tossed up a ball and played basketball for the duration of our visit. As a result, achieving the conversations and messages we wanted to leave the kids with was a challenging task.

Upon returning back to the Sport in Society office and debriefing the afternoon, one of the main things that the interns agreed upon was that when entering a school or an organization with the intention of doing impactful work, it is crucial to the success of ones program to gather background information on the group of people you will be working with. Overall, while the day may have not gone according to plan that does not mean it was unsuccessful. Even though not everyone participated, those that did took away important messages and truly seemed to enjoy themselves. As a result, that is enough for me to look back on our trip to McKinley and think that our programming was a success.

Current SIS interns: (from right to left) Kate Wegener, Sara Binkhorst, Hannah Howe-Lubowich, Robert Boyda and Yili Ma
Current SIS interns: (from right to left) Kate Wegener, Sara Binkhorst, Hannah Howe-Lubowich, Robert Boyda and Yili Ma

 

Male Violence and Professional Sports

For the past few weeks the New England Patriot’s tight end, Aaron Hernandez, has been the subject of headlines across the media spectrum. Hernandez, at only age 23, was arrested on June 26th and charged with first-degree murder, along with other firearm charges. In the aftermath of Hernandez’s arrest arose the question; do professional athletes encounter more trouble with the law than the average citizen?

It seems as though professional athletes are constantly being arrested, getting fined or accused of criminal actions constantly, due to the excessive media coverage of such events. In our society professional athletes are celebrities. They are idolized, celebrated and worshipped by fans both young and old. Due to the elevated status of professional athletes today, expectations of fans are high and when an athlete fails, these actions are seen across the nation, and, quite often, across the world. Unlike the average citizen, athletes are constantly followed by the media, who are just waiting for them to slip, allowing them the pleasure of reporting a high profile story.

Although athletes appear to be negatively portrayed in the media, statistics have proven that the rate of arrests for NFL players is lower than that of other male citizens. In 2011 the FBI determined the arrest rate to be just below 4%, while during that same year only 2.8% of NFL players were arrested. Yet the NFL name has been tarnished due to this minute population of football players who have failed to abide by the law. Clearly statistics show that professional football players are less likely than others to be arrested. So, one may ask the question: why, then, are these rare altercations with the law by NFL athletes so widely publicized in the media?

The answer is this; the purpose of the media is to sell a story and a story of a professional athlete’s inability to follow the law is more probable to be successful than an identical story with an average citizen as the offender. The problem here does not solely lie within the NFL. Yes, there have been many accounts of football players acting violently, but statistics reveal that this is not uncommon for the American male. More educational programs need to be instated in order to mend this problem, as Sport in Society’s own Dan Lebowitz stated during an interview with NECN, “I think what you do is you have to have leadership education that is constant, that kind of moves with the times, that talks about the types of things like this [the Hernandez arrest] and uses it as a teaching moment, talks about a larger culture and the mistakes of youth that we all get subject to, particularly these athletes that are under a microscope 24 hours a day on the field and off the field.” Using education as a tool to fix the crisis of male violence must start early and it must happen often. 

From an Outsiders Perspective

Although I was born in Southie, I have lived outside of Boston my entire life, primarily in Pittsburgh.  Upon graduating highs school, I had two paths laid before me. My options were to either continue with a post-graduate year at Phillips Academy Andover to pursue an athletic career or accept my acceptance to Elon University to study business.  I chose to attend Elon.

For my search of a summer internship, I was drawn back to my city of birth.  An opportunity arose with a nonprofit organization based out of Northeastern University called Sport in Society.  I eagerly applied, and a couple of Skype interviews later I was offered a position.  After twenty years of calling somewhere else my home, I found myself back in Boston.  As excited as I was, was also anxious to start fresh at a somewhat unfamiliar place I had so long been away from.

All of those concerns were quelled shortly into my first day at Sport in Society, and my feeling of nervousness turned into excitement for what was to come.  Each and every one of the incredibly nice people involved with the organization welcomed me with open arms and encouraged judgment free dialogue throughout the orientation.  It created an open and comfortable environment and allowed me and my fellow interns to bond with the team and with each other.  Two ice-breaker filled days later, we were already traveling to our first anti-bullying training session at a school in Dorchester, which really helped our budding intern relationship and forced us to cooperate in an effort to convey an important message to the children.

As far as integrating the new interns into the program and providing insight into how things work, there could not have been a better group of co-ops.  The four operatives, whose time at Sport in Society expired mid-June, gave us a crash course on what to expect and how to behave, and did not allow any time for nerves to creep in.  They were great, and the overlap between our term and theirs, although brief, was extremely positive and memorable, and they set the tone for us.

In the short five weeks I have been interning, we have shared a vast many experiences and, through the collaboration and constant dialogue, become very close friends.  We have been a part of a number of trainings, scoured the city on a very expansive scavenger hunt and taken part in the Mentors in Violence Prevention Institute, all of which promoted teamwork and positivity in an effort to bring us together.

My time with Sport in Society has been incredibly rewarding in every conceivable way.  I have learned a lot, gained considerable experience and created several great lifelong personal and professional bonds.  I could not have chosen a better summer internship, and the skills I have and will acquire over the duration of the time I spend here will serve me well in the future.  My transition from small suburban town to big city has been smooth sailing and every single nervous feeling I ever had has been extinguished by Sport in Society.