Brock students launch organization to tackle inequality in sports

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, fourth-year Sport Management (SPMA) students John (JJ) Gobin and Jacob Klein Goldenberg founded an organization called Voices for Equality in Sport to help create an equal playing field in the sport industry.

“There is a lot of intersectionality throughout sport, politics and social activism outside of the mainstream,” says Gobin. “We have been inspired by the sport figures throughout the civil rights movement of the past and present who have spoken up and become engaged to do more than what we were already doing.”

Voices for Equality in Sport sets out to highlight social injustices in the sport industry and promote equality within the industry. The goals are to provide resources and opportunities to empower minority groups within the sport industry, as well as anyone who wants to help support the movement.

To launch the initiative, the students are hosting a live, open Q & A discussion on the organization’s Instagram account Monday, July 13 at 8 p.m. to engage with students and allies about recognizing the problems and motivating change.

As aspiring law students, both Gobin and Klein Goldenberg acknowledge that policy and regulatory change is not at the forefront of any institution.

“Civil rights movements start as grassroots calls for action, but ultimately we need be able to work within institutions to create top down change,” explains Gobin, who is also completing a minor in Political Science.

“In the context of sport, we’ve seen important figures like Jackie Robinson break the colour barrier by being the first African American to play in Major League Baseball, professional boxer Muhammad Ali refuse to serve in the Vietnam War which he viewed as victimizing minorities in the system of oppression and football player Colin Kaepernick take a knee in 2016 in silent protest against police brutality.”

With further education, Gobin and Klein Goldenberg believe these actions can continue to have a positive ripple effect and gain momentum in the mainstream.

“We plan to be a conduit of information and change as we grow,” says Klein Goldenberg. “We want to help put a voice to the movement, but also provide a platform to tell some of the day to day stories of what people are experiencing within the sport industry.”

As a football fan, Klein Goldenberg says he noticed the disproportion of ethnicity among workers in management offices about three years ago.

“It takes people in positions of privilege to recognize how they may be contributing to the oppression of minority groups and become an ally and voice for change,” says Klein Goldenberg, currently completing his minor in Labour Studies at Brock. “Only by learning about individual experiences can we begin to create an equal playing field where everyone’s contributions are heard equally.”

To help kick off their inaugural event, Voices for Equality in Sport has engaged SPMA Assistant Professor Michael Naraine and Brock graduate Bawe Nsame (BSM ’17), Brand and Marketing Co-ordinator for the 2021 Canada Summer Games as panelists.

“We are very excited to have two speakers who will help us define the problems facing our industry which is largely dominated by white, privileged men,” says Klein Goldenberg. “It is our hope to create a safe, non-judgemental space where individuals who have experienced marginalization and prospective allies will want to come together for positive dialogue and cultural change.”

Voices for Equality in Sport plans to host a series of virtual speaker panels and networking events throughout the summer and fall academic terms with a focus on advocacy and systematic change within national and collegiate sport organizations. They also plan on launching a mentorship program soon.

“We hope to gain momentum in breaking the cycle of oppression,” says Gobin. “By raising awareness of historical social injustices and the colonialist legacy persisting in sport management today, we believe together we can be a voice for change.”

Join Voices for Equality in Sport and guest panelists SPMA Assistant Professor Michael Naraine and Brock Alumnus Bawe Nsame (BSM ’17), Brand and Marketing Coordinator for the 2021 Canada Summer Games for an open Instagram discussion Monday, July 13 at 8 p.m. An RSVP is not required; however, attendees are encouraged to submit questions via direct message the account by Sunday, July 12 at 8 p.m.

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