On a local, national, and international scale – it is becoming increasingly difficult to separate sports and geopolitics. Commissioners of sports leagues are welcoming or rejecting investment from sovereign wealth funds. Cities and countries see large scale sporting events as a massive opportunity to shape their public image. Countless organizations and teams are using the transformative power of sports to make positive change in local communities across continents. Athletes are continuing a tremendous legacy of  using their voice to create positive change. Sports teams have become microcosms for a globalized world. What role does the sports industry have to play in diplomatic endeavors? How are sports a tool to promote intercultural understanding and conflict resolution? How are athletes using their voice to affect change?

In Spring 2024, we will host a series of panel discussions which will seek to answer all of these questions, and examine the role that sports has to play in diplomatic endeavors on a local, regional, and international scale. For this series, diplomacy is defined not just by official state to state relations, but the interpersonal and intercultural relationships on a community level which foster a sense of belonging, inclusion, and welcomeness for people of all walks of life.

This four part series will take place in a hybrid format, with the first and last parts of the program taking place in person, while the second and third parts of the program will take place over Zoom. The in-person programs will pay particular attention to the local relevance of this topic to Kansas City, and work to spotlight Kansas City’s role as a burgeoning global market for large scale sporting events such as the NFL Draft and 2026 World Cup.

Please click on the program of interest below for more information and a link to register.

Please check back as additional participants are confirmed.

Would you like to sponsor this series?

Please visit this page to discuss sponsorship levels and opportunities.

A panel discussion on the ways in which sports teams and events have acted as a facilitator of intercultural understanding in Kansas City and nationwide, historically and in the present. We will focus on the function of Negro League Baseball as a means of representation and empowerment, as well as the modern ways that sports leagues and events ensure their cross-cultural competence. Register here.

A panel discussion centered around sport being seen as a tool for peacebuilding and conflict resolution. We will discuss the limits and scope of sports as a peacebuilding tool, and our panelists will share some relevant examples and tools from their careers and experiences. Register here.

This panel will be centered around the power that sports (and the athletes who play them) have to use their voice to make an impact on global and local communities. We will feature the perspectives of a scholar whose work centers around the nexus of race, identity, and sports, an executive director of a local non-profit who uses sports as a tool for mentoring and empowering refugee youth, and the perspective of a former athlete who has harnessed their voice for social change. Register here.

This final panel will be centered around the way in which sports have and continue to act as a tool for cities and nations to exercise their geopolitical aims. Register here.