– Coach Ted Lasso (beloved protagonist of Apple TV’s latest breakout hit)
Ted Lasso’s rapid rise and positive infusion into our cultural zoologist solidified what I already knew: those coaches are often an unstable force for good, and we need their unique strength and positive way of life. Should do as much as possible to impress.
As a former college athlete, I have long known the power of coaches, but my current passion is connected to my recent journey of discovery and change with my personal Ted Lasso, my friend and colleague Eric Revenue. Assistant coach who coaches the men’s basketball team at Georgia Tech.
Like Lasso, Coach Rio looks at a locker room and sees potential in his players – not just as a competitor, but as a compassionate, caring and capable community member and community leader. Last year, Coach Rio added a new element to his coaching focus: Citizens.
In June 2020, after the assassination of George Floyd and public outcry for social justice reform, Coach Rio launched a personal mission to help his players register to vote. But his efforts did not end with his own team. Coach Rio became the driving force behind #AllVoteNoPlay, a move that urged athletes to stay away from practice or games on election day so that athletes could vote and volunteer. In collaboration with the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, more than 1,100 coaches have finally signed the #AllVoteNoPlay pledge.
Coach Rio and I met last year when I was working on my personal mission to change the way we involve young people in the voting process. I saw a fast-paced, costly and divisive political process that did not support a healthy, strong democracy. As a designer, educator and future, I was curious about how design, empathy and imagination can transform the voting experience.
Together with colleagues, I created Vote by Design, a program focused on transforming “insensitivity” into civic agency through experimental learning and practice. Our goal is to help young voters develop the confidence and ability to vote as a lifelong skill that can be nurtured through deliberate practice. Looking for ways to support his new #AllVoteNoPlay initiative, Rev designed Votes for its students.
2020 was a unique moment in itself, and as a heavily charged presidential election cycle came to an end, a new set of questions arose: How do we ensure that young people continue to learn and engage in our democracy? Who can help them understand their central role in shaping the future? In the lives of young people, who hold the position of trust and mentorship to convey the necessary messages about civic participation without rejecting “boring”, “preaching” or “what others do”
The answer is obvious. As Rio told me: “Now is the time for coaches to teach civic education.”
Young people in every moment of civic life need to be educated about their personal power and agency – from helping a neighbor, to voting for a town council, to casting the biggest vote every four years. Research shows that civic awareness and engagement not only help young people find their voices in their own communities, but also increase their success and satisfaction in life. Citizen-empowered and educated young people are more likely to complete their education, better prepare for future careers, show more empathy and tolerance for different ideologies, and volunteer later in life. But they are more likely to give back to their communities.
So this November 2, we’re spreading these messages across the NCAA. Every coach, every team, regardless of sport or division, can participate in #AllVoteNoPlay. It’s as easy as choosing an urban drill and testing it with your team. Getting together for a team barbecue and movie night, taking an online quiz or engaging in a “civic tag” game may not seem like a life-changing effort, but Rio and I believe in the power of these micro movements so that citizens Begin to build muscle. Players will need good citizenship and community leadership throughout their lives.
We look at a locker room and see its potential.
And I hope this is the first of many #AllVoteNoPlay Days ON, rather than a holiday, where coaches take advantage of their moment and realize this potential.
Solomon of Lisa is a faculty member at Stanford University’s School of Design and the creator of Vote by Design, an educational site designed to promote civic and political engagement among young voters. 21 2021 Flickr. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency