Sport for a Better World

Changemakers, in partnership with Nike launched the "Sport for a Better World" competition. The 2007 competition is now closed, but you can still read the entries and discuss. Please check regularly for more updates.

The three finalists that receive the most votes, will be announced on March 3, 2008 and will each receive a cash prize of US$5,000.


Winner is Announced

March 2, 2008
  • Launch
    September 15, 2007
  • Entry Deadline
    January 7, 2008
  • Voting start
    February 17, 2008
  • Voting end
    March 2, 2008
  • Winner is Announced
    March 2, 2008
Dear Changemakers Community,

It is our nature to innovate. At Nike, we believe the best solutions spring from the creativity within, which is why we have joined with Ashoka, a leading innovator for social change, to launch the Nike – Changemakers Competition: Sport for a Better World.

Since its early years, Nike has led the way as an advocate for change in the world of sport – whether it was pushing the IOC to include long-distance running events or challenging racism in European football arenas with the Stand Up Speak Up campaign. We are now proud to partner with Ashoka’s Changemakers initiative to channel this energy toward using sport itself as a means to create social change in the broader world.

Ashoka is a citizen-sector support system for social entrepreneurs – people around the world who develop innovative solutions to the social problems that most urgently demand them. To further this goal, Ashoka’s website provides an online, interactive forum that encourages collaboration and discussion, along with competition, to draw out the most effective ideas.

Ashoka’s Changemakers and Nike have partnered to open a worldwide search for projects that use the transformative power of sport to achieve real social change. We hope you will join us. Between September 17th and January 8th, 2008, we invite you to propose a way to leverage sport for positive social impact.

Even if you do not offer a proposal of your own, we invite you to join the dialogue. Your experience and insights are invaluable to the emerging field of sport for social change.

Join the online Changemakers community to make suggestions and recommend resources that will help refine and strengthen the strategies presented by competition entrants. Tell us what you’re thinking, how you see the field, where its challenges and opportunities lie.

We’ll need your help again in February 2008 to vote for three winners from the 12 finalists who will be selected by our panel of judges – a group of influential leaders in the field of sport for social change.

With your help, we have the potential to shape the field of sport for change and bring real solutions to our most troubling social problems. You may already be engaged in activities that use sport to change your corner of the world. Now bring this knowledge to a global community. We encourage you to invite others to the competition as well, so together we may uncover the creativity – and natural drive to innovate – within each of us.


Vice President, Corporate Responsibility, Nike, Inc.

Sport for a Better World

How can play and sport cultivate optimism, joy, a sense of community, and skills for the future in poor or marginalized youth?

Around the world, millions of youth are born into conditions that rob them of access to core developmental needs: basic health care and nutrition, a loving home, stimulation for body and mind, and a sense of belonging. Whether it is grinding poverty, racism, or war that puts these rights out of reach, the experience of sport and play can begin to rebuild a youth's shattered world.

Through team sports, individual physical challenges, and community play, youth can regain a sense of optimism, learn conflict resolution and other life skills, tap into their own abilities, and cultivate self-esteem. Sport clearly has a role to play in effectively addressing issues confronting youth. However, there are obstacles to realizing its full potential as a tool for social change, and to advancing the field of sport for social change as a whole.

This mosaic illustrates how Ashoka Fellows have explored the fields of sport and play as antidotes to a variety of social ills; it also provides a gap analysis of current efforts to address the obstacles associated with advancing the field of sport for social change, and a foundation upon which the next generation of social entrepreneurs in the field of sport for social change can build.

Barriers (X Axis):

  • Few effective tools for personal improvement. In marginalized societies, there are few resources or opportunities to address the difficult challenges of personal development and growth. Many people have no access to change because of how their society is structured.

  • Stereotyping that excludes. Populations marginalized because of entrenched social norms such as gender, religion, race, sexual orientation, age, or disability are often excluded by other youth in informal play, and they are overlooked by play programs. These stereotypes exist outside of and inside the world of sport.

  • Sports are trivialized. Sport can teach life skills as well as—or more effectively than—textbook lessons, yet it is not incorporated into many school systems and youth programs. Moreover, sport can also be used effectively as a tool for mobilization, social cohesion, and personal development. Yet sport is frequently considered merely frivolous recreation. Professionals responsible for social services, education, and development rarely think of sport as a tool in their toolbox of approaches to address various social ills confronting young people.

  • Lack of "safe spaces." Young people often do not have access to the infrastructure of childhood—the space to be children that is a necessity for growth and development. Sometimes these places do not exist at all, which is common for youth living in poverty, or else they do not have access to the places due to an atmosphere of violence or intolerance. Sport cannot be leveraged as a tool for addressing social challenges if this basic building block is not accessible.

  • The world of sport is tainted. The world of sport is perceived as corrupt, over-commercialized, and often perpetuating negative messages due to fan behavior, excessive competitiveness, and exclusion. Sport's power for change is under-publicized and underutilized, and the prevailing perception sometimes deters the social sector from reaching out to engage the sport sector.

Insights (Y axis):


Total value:
15 000
The three finalists that receive the most votes, will be announced on March 3, 2008 and will each receive a cash prize of US$5,000.