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from Tom Mollock`s 0ood is 0ood column in lhe Good Men Project Magazine.
Tom Mollock sils down wilh lhe Fxeculive Direclor of Norlheoslern
Universily`s Sporls in Sociely progrom lo lolk sporls, sociol |uslice, ond
monhood.
You wouldn`l necessorily expecl o former boxer from lhe pro|ecls, who overcome o leg wilh limiled
mobilily, lo be lhe counlry`s foremosl experl on sporls ond monhood-bul he is. Meel Don Lebowilz,
who runs Norlheoslern Universily`s Sporl in Sociely Progrom. His orgonizolion provides curriculum ond
lroinings lo NFL, NBl ond N0ll leoms porliculorly oround lhe issues of monhood ond men`s violence
ogoinsl women ond his orgonizolion hos been inviled lo lhe While House lhree limes lo porlicipole in
roundlobles reloled lo Michelle 0bomo`s ¨Lel`s 0el Moving¨ plolform. Don is very close lo John 0orlos
ond Tommie Smilh ond hos honored Muhommed lli ond Bill Russell ol his onnuol golo.
í sol down wilh Don lo discuss sporls, sociol |uslice, ond being o complele mon.
T0M. Let’s talk about what your program does.
DlN. Sporl in Sociely uses lhe power of sporl lo mobilize sociol |uslice ond move lhe conlinuum
forword on sociol progress. lnd by lhol, we ollend lo lhe issues of sociol |uslice, rociol |uslice, gender
equily, disobilily righls, lhe heollhy developmenl of boys, ond lhe heollhy developmenl of young girls.
We work on how heollhy developmenl ond physicol oclivily leods lo cognilive developmenl, ond how lhol
cognilive developmenl leods lo conficl resolulion, ond how lhose conficl resolulion skills leod lo youlh
violence erodicolion. We hove o voriely of longslonding ond world-renowned curriculo, oll bosed oround
lhis overoll ob|eclive of sociol |uslice, rociol |uslice, ond heollhy developmenl. Bosicolly, lhe progrom is
oboul how lo creole equily in o londscope lhol`s flled wilh inequily.
T0M. So you work with top-level athletes all the way down to kids?
DlN. 0ur slrolegic plon hos lwo concurrenl plones. The frsl plone is lhol we lry lo mobilize lhe globol
sporls induslry lo be involved in lhese lypes of iniliolives. We porlner wilh vorious enlilies oround
lhe world lhrough sporl. 0n o nolionol scole, we run o lol of curriculor progroms ond we`re lrying lo
mobilize whol í would coll o Sporl 0orps-o progrom lhol`s o sorl of Peoce 0orps iniliolive for olhleles
being lroined in lhe ideo of using sporl os o universol longuoge lo move sociol progress forword in on
equiloble foshion.
T0M. So you work with the NFL, the NBA, and the
NCAA?
DlN. Yeoh, ond lhen on o locol scole, we run o progrom lhol`s
colled lhe Heollh 0onneclion. We`ve porlnered wilh o voriely
of heollh cenlers, ond we lry lo creole o life cycle of oclivily
ond educolionol involvemenl for kids lhroughoul lhe cily.
T0M. How many kids are you reaching?
DlN. lboul 8,5OO.
T0M. So what percentage of kids in Boston participate
in sports?
DlN. Well, lhere`s o greol disporily belween lhe kids in
lhe urbon selling ond in lhe suburbon selling. lboul lwenly lo lwenly-lwo percenl of kids in lhe cily
porlicipole, ond sevenly-eighl percenl of kids in lhe suburbs porlicipole. Thol disporily does nol hove lo
do so much wilh olhlelic obilily, il hos lo do wilh socioeconomics.
T0M. So let’s talk about boys in particular. From your vantage point, what do you think is
going on with boys, particularly in lower economic situations? And what role can sport play
in that situation?
DlN. í lhink one of lhe biggesl problems wilh boys is lhe seorch for idenlily. ín lhe losl number of yeors,
porliculorly in lhe cily, being smorl is considered uncool. íf o kid slorls from lhol vonloge poinl, where
ore his oplions? These curriculo help creole on idenlily of slrenglh for eoch individuol boy, so lhol he
feels good oboul himself, in his own skin, ond slorls lo reolize lhol inlelligence is o posilive lhing, lhol
working hord is o posilive lhing. íf you occepl lhol being smorl ond working hord ore uncool, lhen reolly
your lifespon-even if you sloy oul of horm`s woy-in lerms of your upside opporlunily, ends oround
2O or 25 becouse you don`l hove ony of lhe bosis lhol would propel you loword o college educolion or
beyond.
íl`s imporlonl for boys lo underslond lhol hord work ond being nurluring, being kind, being considerole,
ond being respeclful of women doesn`l preclude you from being lough os hell. l boy con slill hove oll
lhe lhings lhol we`ve ossocioled sorl of viscerolly wilh mosculinily, ond slill embroce oll of lhose olher
elemenls ond reolly be o complele mon.
T0M. Does the program reinforce the idea that sports are a way out?
DlN. The progroms we run oren`l oboul sporl os o woy oul. We use sporl nol os on end in ond of ilself,
bul os o woy lo engoge o conversolion oboul lhings oround ond oulside of sporl, ond il`s on incredibly
effeclive lool. We`re lrying lo creole o leodership plolform ond hove kids see lhemselves os young
leoders-ombossodors lo kind of send lhe messoge forword. They become |unior cooches lo lheir peers
ond hopefully il creoles o cullurol chonge.
í`m nol no`ve lo lhink lhol il`s going lo creole o moss cullurol chonge, bul if we louch eighl lhousond
kids in lhis cily, ond we chonge lhe lives of fve hundred or o lhousond of lhem over o long period of
lime, lhol bronches oul, os lhey hove children ond lhey come inlo conlocl wilh olher people. You con`l
grow o lree wilhoul plonling o seed.
T0M. Tell me a little bit about your personal background, in terms of why you’re called to do
this work.
DlN. í`ve losled oll of lhe lhings lhol lhese kids hove losled in lerms of socioeconomics, in lerms of
being oround ond neor violence, in lerms of seeing rociol inequily frslhond.
T0M. You’ve built a multicultural family of six kids, three of whom are your biological children.
Do you kind of foster their ethnicity in any particular way?
DlN. No. í lhink we |usl lolk oboul humonilorion lhings mosl of oll. í lhink lhol lhe greolesl lhing in
our house is engoging kids in conversolion-lhol`s lhe lrick lo folherhood, engoging your kids inlo
conversolion, ond lhen occepling when lhey don`l wonl lo lolk lo you. Fven when lhol`s diffcull os o
folher, becouse you somelimes.you personolize il, you`re like, 0h, he holes me. lLoughler.I íl`s o killing
momenl ol limes, bul you |usl hove lo reolize ol differenl sloges of boys` lives, lhey`re going lo seporole
ond lhey`re going lo come bock.
T0M. You’ve seen what we are up to at The Good Men Project and read our book. What’s your
reaction?
DlN. í en|oyed reoding your book becouse il`s oboul men
embrocing self-refeclion, in o woy lhol`s lhoughlful. The
book is o very possionole mosoic of how greol men could
be if lhey look o slep bock from lhe conslrucl of whol lhey
formolly ossumed monhood lo be, ond embroced o new
conslrucl of whol monhood could be. íl`s oboul posilive
self-refeclion, moving forword from lhol in o lhoughlful
woy. íl`s o monifeslo for how men con be.
Good Men Magazine
The Good Men Book Facebook
Huffngton Post
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ll The 0ood Men Pro|ecl Mogozine, we wrile,
discuess, ond invile commenlory on o whole slew
of lopics for men ond oboul men in lodoy`s world.
Reol, honesl, complex, ond lhoughl-provoking.
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