PSC Hosts Symposium on Sports and Society

Sarah Huffman, Assistant News Editor

Fordham’s School of Professional and Continuing Studies (PCS) hosted a Global Symposium on Sports and Society, focusing on anti-semitism on Wednesday Sept. 25.

The symposium was presented in conjunction with the Chelsea Football Club (CFC) and New England Revolution’s Final “Whistle on Hate,” a joint effort between the teams to fight anti-semitism and discrimination globally.

The event presented lecturers and panels discussing sports and the influence that anti-semitism has had on the field.

The event was an all day function, starting at 9:00 a.m. and going until 5:00 p.m. It opened with a welcome speech from organizer, Anthony R. Davidson, dean of Fordham School of Professional and Continuing Studies.

Davidson said he felt it was time to start a conversation with people from all over the sports industry, and look at the reality of anti-antisemitism in ports and work on strategies to effect change.

“Although there is a lot of divisiveness and quasi-tribalism in sports, I have also experienced personally how sports can act as the great ice-breaker and unifier among people of different cultures, ethnicity, races and religions,” he said. “Fordham, for me, given its commitment to social justice and the genuine concern of the student body to make positive change, was the natural place to host such an event.”

The Symposium was held in conjunction with CFC, and its chairman Bruce Buck gave opening remarks, as well. Following these speeches, there were five sessions of panelists talking about the role anti-semitism has played in the sports industry. The sessions had titles such as “The Impact of Hate on Society” and “The Playbook for Victory: In the Classroom and the Locker Room.”

Guest speakers and panelists were a mix of athletes, academics and journalists, including Ross Greenburg, former president of HBO Sports, Charlie Davies, a New England Revolution Club ambassador and former professional soccer player and Bob Ahrens, a retired WFUV executive sports producer.

Davidson said he wanted speakers from all areas of athletics — including executives, media, scholars and athletes. He said they invited people from a variety of sports including football, soccer, rowing, fencing, boxing, horse racing and even a Strongman competitor.

“We can all come together no matter what we believe in or what we look like,” said Davies during his panel. “We can all come together and promote equality. That’s why I’m very proud to be here and continue to push this initiative.”

Emmanuel Berbari, FCRH ’21, said he attended the event specifically to see Bob Ahrens.

“He’s been a terrific mentor to me for several years, and I’m always captivated by what he has to say,” said Berbari. “Once I got to the event, though, I was struck by the individual battles each speaker had to endure throughout the course of their professional careers.”

Berbari said there is plenty of room for improvement in the field and there is no place for built-in discrimination in any work environment, especially not sports.

“I’m glad to have been inspired to assist in this change by hearing about their personal triumphs,” said Berbari.

Davidson said he thought the event went very well overall. He said most people could not commit to coming for the entire day, but there were still around 100 people in the room at any given point with a continuous amount of energy.

“During the breaks and afterwards there were great discussions going on,” he said. “Most importantly, the feedback from the speakers, panelists and attendees after the event has been nothing short of spectacular.

Davidson said people have already asked him when the next symposium is and had offers to sponsor and host a similar event on the West Coast and in London.

“I am encouraged by the feedback in which people said they learned a lot, it raised their awareness and that they felt they had some concrete takeaways,” said Davidson. “One of the most satisfying observations was that attendees were focused on the panels and the speakers with very little distraction by technology going on.”

Davidson said he hopes this will become an annual event but would like to expand it to other areas of focus, such as women or youth and sports.