If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.
This quote allegedly originates from the 14th Dalai Lama. And everyone that has experienced the sound of a mosquito in the bedroom understands the meaning. Trying to find the origin of this quote, it seems however unclear when it was actually first used. Having just read some research about how sports has the potential to influence community building and social connection, I think now would have been a good time to say it, had the quote not already existed.
A couple of things lately have drawn my attention. Well, many people’s attention actually. It is probably wrong to resemble Gary Lineker with a mosquito, given his almost 9 million followers on Twitter. However, when he posted his take on the Home Secretary’s speech about how the Government’s new Immigration Bill aims to stop the boats with refugees coming across the Channel, he reached far outside those interested in football and the Match of the Day on BBC. In fact, he managed to get a lot of people interested in the charter of the BBC and it’s ”impartiality” requirement. Is that possible to balance with free speech and millions of people in a social media following?
After a few days of suspension Lineker was back on the air, perhaps thanks to the backing of many other high profile media people. So it would seem that using your voice to stand up for your values is allowed, even if you are a high profile TV presenter.
My second example of social media impact, to the extent of a mosquito in the bedroom, is Sedona Prince. As a high profile college senior on the University of Oregon basketball team she managed to go viral with a tiktok video showing the inequality of the men’s and women’s locker room gyms at the NCAA March Madness. As you might guess the video did not highlight how great the women’s gym was compared to the men’s. The interesting thing is that with 190 million likes to her account Sedona Prince by far bypasses her male equivalent in college basketball. On court he is a very sought after first draft for the NBA the following year. In social media however, it seems like the stories he has to tell have a smaller spread. And I think it is fair to believe that the NCAA from now on will equip the women’s gym in a slightly different way.
In summary, it would seem like when sports profiles choose to raise their voice on issues relating to how we all in society view people, and on questions of inequality, then things happen. And they break through to people far outside the sports bubble. And there is the chance for sport, and athletes, to really affect social connection and community building. The individuals have already gone there. What remains to be seen is if the large organisations of sport will follow.