America is a strange place to be at the moment. I've just got back from a three-day trip to New York in the grip of election fever, and I'd hate to have a fever that lasted as long as US elections - what a staggering waste of time and money. It almost makes you grateful for the UK approach - weeks not months, hundreds of thousands rather than tens of millions spent.
Having witnessed the Vice-Presidential debate I grew even more dismayed. It seemed to mirror the divide that is America - based more on hard-set beliefs than substantive policy, and less about facts than pantomime raspberry blowing. The same could be said of the coverage afterwards, with CNN and Fox not hiding allegiances. The divide is scary, and belittling of this remarkable country that has given the world so much and always pulls together in tougher times. At present every challenge is a finger-point, denunciation or an opportunity for one-upmanship.
Would it be so puerile if the candidates were not so lightweight? There seems to be a dearth of leadership in western countries at the moment - no-one seems to catch the public mood and draw people together or act as the rallying voice.
It is in this context that a remarkably powerful movement is happening that demonstrates that people with traditionally hard-set views are coming together in a unique non-partisan way.
Sport in terms of participation has always had the knack of reducing ignorance and bringing people together; this rarely infiltrated its way into professional sport, where fans, teams and leagues continue to be divided by fanaticism, desperation to win and bottom line. That is changing in the most surprising way.
On 13 November sports teams that would, by definition, invariably want each other to fail will set aside traditional difference to meet and share best practice over how they can do more to uplift our cities and society - tackling education, health, crime, social inclusion, domestic violence and much more. The Mets and Yankees, Manchester City and Manchester United, New England Patriots and Chicago Bears and another 200 teams will sit together at Beyond Sport United, believing that as a collective they are stronger and can change society for the better.
It is led by the unlikeliest of bedfellows in the leagues themselves - some of the most powerful brands in the world - who have decided that bipartisanship is something they can do. The commissioners of the NFL, NBA and WNBA, MLB, MLS, NHL and NASCAR have signed their first-ever joint letter - a rallying call that recognises the importance and influence of sport in changing things for the better. It is a watershed moment for sport and for these mega brands that are seeking out responsibility - and for the commissioners, who have recognised that their role goes beyond running their sport, it is a course of action that could change their organisations and sports itself. This is leadership - innovative, bold and committed.
Also present will be the self-starting leaders some who run some of the most impactful sports projects in the world, disarming violent gangs, driving young people back into education and tackling exclusion and health issues. They will be there to connect with the teams and to demonstrate the precious resource they have at their disposal. Our burgeoning cities are faced with a multitude of issues and the vast stadium often sitting in the most deprived area is often the greatest and most-loved asset of a city. Use it in the right way and not only can a team effect positive change but can help drive their business forward - because what you give to the community, the community will give back.
The gathering will also include a remarkable group of young people whose lives have been transformed by sport. Backed by British Airways, Beyond Sport will be connecting young British and American coaches who have come through the toughest life circumstances to become sports coaches and inspirations to their community. They will be visiting some of the most hardened areas of NYC and seeing how sport is changing young New Yorkers' lives. I wonder what the UK youngsters will make of Figure Skating in Harlem - a superb education project for young women.
If the next decade is going to represent some of humanity's greatest challenges then the solutions will be found in the most unlikely of partnerships. November 13th represents the foundations of a global movement to place sports teams at the epicentre of communities across the world. The vision of the commissioners to take this step is an example to political leaders. They have grasped the urgency and recognised that this is not business as usual.
From that realisation will come the greatest gathering of sports teams around social change in history and a remarkable collision of talent, brand equity and purpose. The results, we hope, will take these teams and leagues out of the sports section and onto the front pages.
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