For 30 years, The Center for the Study of Sport in Society has used the power and appeal of sport to create positive social change.  Due to its central place in society, the visibility and stature of athletes, and the extent to which its worldwide audience cuts across gender, race, and socioeconomic lines, sport can bridge cultural gaps, resolve conflict, and educate people in a way that few other activities can.  Over the course of our history, we have connected the world of sport with social-justice-driven research, education, and advocacy.

Since our founding, an entire field has developed at the grassroots and professional levels using sport to create safe, healthy, and inclusive environments.  However, only a small fraction of these participants receive the full benefit of sport as a means of developing leadership, character, and lifelong habits that assure they will become active, contributing members of society.  The Center aims to transform the culture of sports from competition to inclusion and to promote a paradigm shift that sports are more than just the scoreboard.

The Center’s nationally recognized leadership curriculum utilizes former professional, collegiate, and Olympic athletes as trainers who equip youth and adults with the skills to diffuse potentially violent encounters and value difference.  Rooted in the bystander approach to education, these trainings:

  • Raise Awareness
  • Challenge Thinking
  • Open Dialogue
  • Inspire Leadership

Our training programs engage participants in an interactive facilitated dialogue that provides an educational experience that is both informative and interesting.  The Center has provided training & consultation to the NBA, MLB, World Cup, US Tennis Association, Major League Soccer, US Marine Corps, hundreds of colleges, thousands of high schools, and scores of non-profits across the globe.

Quick Facts

  • Founded in 1984 by visionary and social justice pioneer Richard Lapchick.
  • As one of its first projects to reform high school and college sports, in 1985 Sport in Society established the National Consortium for Academics and Sports to advocate for a balance between academics and athletics. Most namely it established the Degree Completion Program.
  • The first major program to branch out of Sport in Society was a diversity awareness program called Project Teamwork (PTW) which was established in 1990.
  • Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) was established in 1993 as a gender violence prevention and education program. In 1995, it launched two new programs Athletes in Service and Urban Youth Sports.

True Heroes of Sports Hall of Fame

The Hall of Fame was established in 1994 to recognize those athletes who have made outstanding contributions to society through their participation in sport.


  • 1994 – Muhammad Ali
  • 1995 – Red Auerbach
  • 1996 – Wilma Rudolph
  • 1997 – Jackie Robinson
  • 1998 – Arthur Ashe
  • 1999 – Rafer Johnson
  • 2000 – Bill Russell
  • 2001 – Postponed due to 9/11
  • 2002 – Dick Schaap
  • 2003 – Althea Gibson
  • 2004 – Richard Lapchick
  • 2005 – C. Vivian Stringer
  • 2006 – Billie Jean King
  • 2007 – The 1999 US Women’s National Soccer Team
  • 2008 – Tommie Smith and John Carlos
  • 25th Anniversary – Thomas “Satch” Sanders & Eunice Kennedy Shriver

New England Hero Awards

The New England Hero Award is given annually to select persons or enterprises of the New England sports community that have shown outstanding commitment to promoting the positive aspects of sport through sportsmanship, community service and/or courageous achievement. The awards are bestowed upon one male and one female in honor of Lenny Zakim or Selma Black, respectively:

Lenny Zakim New England Hero Award Winners

  • 1998 – Pedro Martinez
  • 1999 – Greg Montalbano
  • 2000 – Dan Doyle
  • 2001 – Postponed due to 9/11
  • 2002 – Ron Burton Sr.
  • 2003 – Cam Neely
  • 2004 – Mayor Thomas Menino
  • 2005 – Tim Wakefield
  • 2006 – Eli J. Segal
  • 2007 – Larry Lucchino
  • 2008 – Greg Zaff

Selma Black New England Hero Award Winners

  • 1998 – Holly Metcalf
  • 1999 – Laurie Flutie
  • 2000 – Anne Woolf
  • 2001 – No winners due to 9/11
  • 2002 – Cara Dunne-Yates
  • 2003 – Jackie MacMullan
  • 2004 – Alfreda Harris
  • 2005 – Joan Benoit-Samuelson
  • 2006 – Jean Driscoll
  • 2007 – Stacey Lucchino
  • 2008 – Kathy Delaney-Smith

Richard Lapchick Sport and Social Justice Innovation Award

The Richard Lapchick Sport and Social Justice Innovation Award recognizes leaders who have dedicated their lives and careers to moving social justice forward through sport. Peter Roby was the first inductee at the 25th Anniversary award ceremony.

Excellence in Sports Journalism Awards

The Excellence in Sports Journalism Awards recognize journalists or works of journalism that address the human, sociological or societal impact of sport on life. Co-sponsored by Sport in Society and the Northeastern University School of Journalism, the Excellence in Sports Journalism Awards honor journalistic achievements that enhance our understanding of the impact of sport on our culture.


  • Print Media: Frank Deford
  • Broadcast Media: Howard Cosell
  • Special Award: Ring Lardner


  • Print Media: Chronicle of Higher Education
  • Broadcast Media: Dick Schaap
  • Special Award: Red Smith


  • Print Media: Cleveland Plain Dealer
  • Broadcast Media: Ted Koppel
  • Special Issues Award: Chris Mortenson and John Sparks


  • Book: Arthur Ashe
  • Print Media: Will McDonough


  • Print Media: Sports Illustrated
  • Broadcast Media: Roy Firestone


  • Print Media: USA Today
  • Broadcast Media: Bill Moyers and Howard Weinberg


  • Print Media: Robert Lipsyte, New York Times
  • Broadcast Media: Bob Costas, NBC


  • Print Media: Gary Smith, Sports Illustrated
  • Broadcast Media: Robin Roberts, ESPN


  • Print Media: Ed Sherman and Barry Tempkin, Chicago Tribune
  • Broadcast Media: ESPN’s “Outside the Lines”
  • Photojournalism: Howard Bingham


  • Documentary Film: “Hoop Dreams”
  • Broadcast Media: Bob Ley, ESPN


  • Print Media: Gary Smith, Sports Illustrated
  • Broadcast Media: HBO’s “Real Sports” with Bryant Gumbel


  • Print Media: The Sporting News
  • Broadcast Media: WCVB-TV’s “High Five” with Mike Lynch
  • Broadcast Media: ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” and “Town Meeting”


  • Print Media: Sam Lacy, Afro-American (Baltimore, Md.)
  • Broadcast Media: Michelle Seaton, NPR’s “Only a Game”
  • Broadcast Media: HBO Sports’ “City Dump: The Story of the 1951 CCNY Basketball Scandal”


  • Print Media: Erik Brady, USA Today
  • Broadcast Media: ESPN’s SportsCentury


  • Print Media: Derrick Jackson, Boston Globe
  • Broadcast Media: Ross Greenburg, HBO Sports


  • No winners due to events of Sept. 11


  • Lifetime Achievement: Dick Schaap


  • Print Media: Patrick Saunders, The Denver Post
  • Broadcast Media: Steve Crump, WTVI-TV, Charlotte, NC


  • Print Media: Mark Fainaru-Wada, Lance Williams, San Francisco Chronicle
  • Broadcast Media: Tom Goldman, National Public Radio
  • Lifetime Achievement: Ralph Wiley, ESPN.com


  • Print Media: Tracy Dodds, Ted Green and Jeff Rabjohns, Indianapolis Star
  • Broadcast Media: George Roy, HBO


  • Print Media: Peter Thamel, The New York Times
  • Visual Media: Bill Hinds and Jeff Millar, Universal’s Tank McNamara


  • Print Media: Peter Keating, ESPN the Magazine
  • Broadcast Media: John Barr and Jon Fish, “Lady Caliphs” ESPN


  • Print Media: Paul Fain and Brad Wolverton, The Chornicle of Higher Education
  • Broadcast Media: Bryant Gumbel and Kirby Bradley, “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel”

25th Anniversary

  • Lifetime Achievement: Bob Ley
  • Print Media: Bob Hohler, Boston Globe