Finding Some Positivity ... in Sports

August 1, 2020

Invite students to get some inspiration from athletes who have pursued social justice.

To the Teacher:
 

Amid Covid-19 and the unrelenting fight against racial injustice, it can be hard to find even the slightest bit of positivity.

It's easy to get overwhelmed with the uncertainty that surrounds school, health, or finances, but it’s important to try and find bright moments that help us smile, relax, and breathe.

By observing other people’s perseverance and triumphs, we can often find bouts of energy and inspiration for ourselves.

In the world of sports, there are countless examples of athletes pursuing justice or investing in their community to make this world a better place. By sharing their stories with one another, we can bask in that proverbial positive light we sometimes lose sight of.

This activity invites students and teachers to share stories of what an athlete has done to support their community or stand up to injustice, and to share how these profiles in courage (or selflessness) can positively inspire the rest of us.
 

Maya Moore
WNBA's Maya Moore is fighting to reform the criminal justice system. Photo by Lorie Shaull.

 



Preparation
 

Before your session with students, find an article about an athlete – from the U.S. or abroad – who has pursued justice in a way that may resonate with your students. Examples include these stories about WNBA social activists Renee Montgomery and Maya Moore:

https://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2020/06/30/renee-montgomery-wnba-activist

https://time.com/5793243/maya-moore-basketball-justice/


Alternatively, ask a student, a pair of students, or a small group of students to find a positive story about such an athlete. Ask them to email you a link to the article before your next session.

Either way, be prepared to share the article with students in class. (If it is too long for students to read in class, you may want to ask them to read it in advance.)
 



Opening


Welcome students to the virtual circle. Express to them that during difficult times, it can often be helpful to share in someone else’s positivity to enhance our own.

Share-screen the quote below and invite a student to read it out loud. (Or, find another quote that might inspire your students from sources such as here and here.) 

This quote is from world-renowned Swiss tennis champion Roger Federer (pronounce Fed-Er-Rer):

 

“I’m a very positive thinker, and I think that is what helps me the most in difficult moments.” - Roger Federer


After students have heard and read the quote, ask:

  • Does anything in the quote resonate with you?
     
  • Do you agree that this way of thinking can be helpful? If yes, how? If not, why?

There’s no need to spend a lot of time here, it just helps set the tone.
 



Finding Inspiration
 

Next, screen-share the article you or students have selected. Give students time to read it on the screen, even if you have given them the link in advance.

In a go-round, ask students to read passages of the article out loud. After the article is read, ask students:

  • What was the main message?
  • How did hearing this story make you feel, and why?
  • Was there anything the athlete did specifically, that stood out to you?
  • Is this something you could see yourself doing, and why?

 



Closing


Have students share final thoughts on the quote or article.

Then thank students for participating, and encourage them to try to stay positive despite what’s happening around us. But also let them know that it’s okay when they do not feel positive. Remind them that sometimes getting to positivity is a marathon. Not a sprint.

Hopefully, by sharing in this positivity circle, they will feel better leaving, than when they first logged in. Even if just a little bit.