On Tuesday, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama announced the for­ma­tion of a White House Office of Olympic, Par­a­lympic and Youth Sport. According to a White House press release, the new office will pro­mote the Olympic Movement’s values and encourage young people to par­tic­i­pate in athletics.

Dan Lebowitz is the director of Northeastern’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society, which uses the power and appeal of sport to foster diver­sity, pre­vent men’s vio­lence against women, erad­i­cate youth vio­lence, and improve the health of dis­en­fran­chised urban youth. Below, Lebowitz dis­cusses the impact the newly cre­ated fed­eral office may have on sports in the United States and beyond.

How big of a win is this for sport and social justice?

This is a huge vic­tory for kids in the city of Boston and across the country. Sport in Society has always cham­pi­oned the impor­tance of play in the devel­op­ment of youth. The cre­ation of this office sends a mes­sage that sports is a right avail­able to everyone regard­less of socioe­co­nomic back­ground, race, gender or disability.

Pres­i­dent Obama has said, “It is an impor­tant goal of my admin­is­tra­tion to give our nation’s chil­dren every pos­sible tool they need to grow, learn and suc­ceed in life.” How will this new per­ma­nent office help accom­plish that mission?

Sport offers kids an oppor­tu­nity to develop con­fi­dence, learn about team­work and coop­er­a­tive spirit, and improve their indi­vidual health. These lessons can be car­ried throughout life as a frame­work for success.

If you were a member of the Office of Olympic, Par­a­lympic and Youth Sport, what would be the top items on your agenda?

The over­riding item on the agenda would be to under­score the mes­sage that sport is inclu­sive. We’d look to expand sports oppor­tu­nity in our cities and schools, and to address the uneven land­scape between urban and sub­urban access to sports, safe havens and quality facilities.

What back­ground should the admin­is­tra­tion look for when selecting the lead­er­ship for this office?

I think there are a couple of qual­i­ties appro­priate for admin­is­tra­tors to pos­sess. Pres­i­dent Obama has shown a unique ability to orga­nize com­mu­ni­ties; the person he selects for this office should share that expe­ri­ence, as well as a demon­strated com­mit­ment to the health and well-​​being of our young people.

Last month, Sport in Society issued a call-​​to-​​action rec­om­men­da­tion to Pres­i­dent Obama that the United States for­mally pro­mote sport and cul­ture in gov­ern­ment. You offi­cially intro­duced the pro­posal on May 6 at the annual Human Rights Lead­er­ship Forum at North­easern. How does this pro­posal com­pare to the objec­tives of the Office of Olympic, Par­a­lympic and Youth Sport?

The lan­guage of the pro­posal is incred­ibly con­gruent with the lan­guage of Pres­i­dent Obama’s announce­ment, par­tic­u­larly the emphasis on inclu­sion, city kids and sport as a means to learn and embrace leadership.

Past U.S. pres­i­dents such as Teddy Roo­sevelt and Dwight Eisen­hower were con­cerned about the role of sport in society. Eisen­hower even cre­ated the President’s Council on Phys­ical Fit­ness and Sports, which endorsed phys­ical fit­ness at an early age. What is the his­tor­ical sig­nif­i­cance of Obama’s deci­sion to push sports and its social and eco­nomic impact into the limelight?

This announce­ment high­lights Pres­i­dent Obama’s under­standing of the power of sport to create social change. Sport is para­mount to the suc­cessful future of our kids, par­tic­u­larly their ability to create a more inclu­sive, diverse, healthy and pro­duc­tive society.

How will the newly formed office help in Chicago’s bid to host the 2016 Olympics?

This office speaks to the power of sport to leave an Olympics legacy that isn’t defined by empty build­ings but rather by pro­grams that impact the needs of city kids.