Creating Social Value Blog / Social Innovation

Championing Sports for Good

By Lindsey Kittredge, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Shooting Touch.

I firmly believe Nelson Mandela’s creed that sport has the power to change the world. That is what gets me out of bed in the morning. Sport is omnipresent in our culture here in the US and around the world. It is engrained into so many basic aspects of human life. I believe if you teach today’s students how to use sports as the foundation for social enterprise in higher education, then large global problems can be solved and in the end, lives can be saved. That is the reason why I do what I do. And that is what I hope many students do in the future.

I am a social entrepreneur. I never sought out to have this identity. I always loved sports, played them and married a sports nut. I was born in Boston. I knew what it meant to be a Boston sports fan. I just never knew how the magnitude of a simple game could save lives. That is until we created Shooting Touch – a not-for-profit business, a social enterprise that aims at decreasing obesity and malnutrition in under-resourced youth around the globe through the power of sport.

I fell into this role, this career, this passion a bit by mistake. My husband and I really did not mean to turn a little grassroots basketball organization in Boston into a global NGO. We followed the need, we laid blocks down and quickly realized that what we were doing – using sports, specifically basketball, as a vehicle for health education and social development – was simply working. In our seven years of operation, we also realized what we were doing wrong even faster. We saw all of the examples of like-minded organizations doing it the right way – Grassroots Soccer, Tenacity, Squashbusters, Peace Players International  – and one day, we emulate to be on the same level of success and stability as each of these giants of change.

The keys to success in building something from nothing, something that aims to leave the world a better place is to simply be persistent and determined in your mission. Stay the course. Decide what you want to solve and do not change your course as a way to get more money in the door. Identify the need and the outcome first, then work backwards in developing a path to solve your problem. Be mindful of each community you work in and be respectful. Don’t assume you can help everyone. Stay passionate about your cause and be as educated on every level as much as possible. Simply, keep going when you fall and learn. Celebrate the wins, no matter the size. Never loose sight of the bottom dollar, because with out it, no social change can occur. Have fun because if it is not fun, then it should not be done.

I am no expert. I only know what this challenging and incredibly rewarding journey has taught me. I know that sports is an incredibly powerful tool to create a business that has both economic and social value. Use this power. Solve problems. Leave the world a tiny bit better…if you can. I really hope the Spring Sports Conference: The Business of Sports we are bringing to Babson will shed light on the connection between sports, business and social innovation. If one student walks away on March 29th sharing in our belief that sport has the power to change the world and determined to make a difference, then we will have accomplished our mission.