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The Rose Bowl Institute Celebrates One-Year Anniversary After Impacting Thousands of Young People

Published on Wednesday, August 4, 2021 | 5:54 am

The Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation, a non-profit that protects, preserves, and enhances the future of the Rose Bowl Stadium, on Tuesday celebrated the one-year anniversary of the launch of the Rose Bowl Institute.

The Foundation said that in its first year, the Institute worked to champion sportsmanship, leadership, and citizenship. Through its various educational programs, focused dialogues, and awards, the Institute “leverages the power of sports to unite people everywhere.”

Thanks to the generosity of a growing national donor base, the Institute provided viewers and participants with free programming that supports and strengthens all members of society.  These include panels on race and sports, a Women’s Empowerment Symposium, and a session on managing collegiate athletics during the pandemic.

“The Institute is proud to have impacted so many so soon after our launch,” said Institute president Charlie Firestone. “It’s been an exciting start to an ambitious program aimed at moving people from a win-at-all-cost mentality to a sportsmanship mentality.”

The Institute’s advisory board, composed of 44 leading sports, media, civic and business leaders, has both advised and participated in the Institute’s activities.  Board members included Ronnie Lott, Ann Meyers Drysdale, JC Watts, Billie Jean King, Dick Vermeil, Jessica Mendoza, Eric Dickerson, Cobi Jones, Stan Kasten, Baron Davis, Brandi Chastain, Julie Foudy and others.

The Foundation said the Institute has also developed key partnerships across the United States with the National Constitution Center, the Ross Institute of Sports and Equality (R.I.S.E), UCLA’s Center for MEMES at the Anderson School of Management, the USC Annenberg Center for Communications Leadership & Policy, the Christina Mauser Foundation, and the Albright Institute at Wellesley College.

Launching amidst a global pandemic, the Institute embraced the virtual world to engage a digital audience during its launch.  The RBi’s first program, August 2020, initiated its Dialogue on Race and Sports, focusing on the legacy of Pasadena native, Jackie Robinson.

Subsequent panels addressed collective athlete activism, and the state of race in sports.

The Foundation said that in the next in the series, planned for September 2021, the Dialogue will address Latinos in sports and honor the legacy of football star, businessman, civil rights leader and humanitarian Daniel Villanueva, Sr.

Last September, the Rose Bowl Institute executed another flagship program platform, its Women’s Empowerment Symposium, which served 1100 registered participants from 33 states and 7 countries, covering six hours over a three-day period. The symposium featured leading speakers such as actress Sophia Bush, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and soccer stars Julie Foudy and Brandi Chastain.

The pandemic environment also prompted an RBi program panel for administrators of intercollegiate athletics to share the challenges of operating their programs amidst health sensitive circumstances that impacted campuses and student-athletes around the nation.

In addition to the programing that the Institute has accomplished over the past year, it has also awarded multiple scholarships and awards to youth in support of their continued education. Due to the generosity of its donors, the Institute has provided scholarships via its Women’s Empowerment Symposium platform, and through its partnership with the Christina Mauser Foundation.

This spring, the Institute awarded its first Rose Bowl Sportsmanship Initiative (ROSI) award. A committee of RBi Advisory Board members and civic leaders presented the award to a deserving Pasadena High School football player who most exemplified sportsmanship during the annual “Turkey Tussle.”  The Tussle is a 73-year traditional rivalry football game at America’s Stadium between Pasadena High School and Jackie Robinson’s alma mater, John Muir High School.

“It is heart-warming to see young athletes competing with all their grit and skill and still respect the game and their opponents,” said Dr. Jen Welter, the first female professional football coach and RBi Advisory Board member who participated on the selection committee for the award. “This award begins a great tradition for RBi to recognize the importance of sportsmanship in all sports.”

The Rose Bowl Institute is currently planning for its third annual Women’s Empowerment Symposium to be streamed September 15-17, an ongoing series of Dialogues on Race and Sports, and a series of private round table gatherings it calls Rose Table Dialogues. Future plans call for an “sportsmanship in schools” program, a podcast, and the continuation and growth of Rose Bowl Sportsmanship Initiative (ROSI) that will recognize, encourage, and award outstanding acts of sportsmanship.

“We plan to send athletes into schools to talk about sportsmanship and its analogies to citizenship,” said Institute Program Director Lauren Hall.  “We will have a sportsmanship story contest, and eventually give out ROSI Awards for outstanding acts of sportsmanship across all levels of men’s and women’s sports.  And we will have Rose Table Dialogues among sportscasters and journalists to see how sportsmanship can be more visible to the public.”

“We are excited that the Rose Bowl Institute launched with such a stellar team,” said Darryl Dunn, CEO of the Rose Bowl Stadium.  “The Rose Bowl is not only a venue of legendary sports moments, but also a shrine to amazing sports values.  The Rose Bowl Institute will reflect and celebrate the essence of the Rose Bowl as we look to celebrate our centennial in 2022.”

“As Nelson Mandela observed, ‘Sport has the power to change the world,’” added Dedan Brozino, Chief Development Officer of the Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation.  “That is what we intend to do with this institute: apply positive sports values to civil society.”

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