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Fields of battle, fields of play — Borah Symposium highlights intersection of sports, war

Submitted by on 03.28.2013 – 10:08 pm

Soldiers and athletes are symbols of national pride, according to Lysa Salsbury, co-chair of the Borah Symposium and coordinator of programs at the University of Idaho Women’s Center.
Both of these groups represent their countries in conflicts, one through war and one through sports.
The theme for the 2013 Borah Symposium is “Sports, War, Peace: Beyond the Battlefield.”
Ellen Kittell, the other co-chair and a professor in the history department, said the use of the word “field” was intentional — battlefield, football field and so on.
“There’s a broad spectrum of sport. Even if you’re not an athlete, you can be a spectator,” Kittell said.
Salsbury said sports bring countries at war — internally as well as externally — together.
For instance, the Olympics allow representatives from a myriad of countries to compete in a productive way. Countries that have conflict within often come together to field Olympic teams.
“Sport is a structured way of dealing with conflict,” Kittell said.
The symposium will open at 7 p.m. Monday in the Student Union Building ballroom with the film “One Goal,” about amputee soccer in Sierra Leone.
The filmmaker, Sergi Agusti, along with two others, will present some of the background for the film, and then will be available for comments after.
Civil war in the 1990s tore Sierra Leone apart. One of the ways of punishing rebels was to cut off arms and legs, Kittell said. Salsbury said many people lost limbs to land mines.
Dee Malchow, an amputee and Washington native, will also present at the film showing. A founding member of American amputee soccer, she started amputee soccer in Sierra Leone while on a mission trip there in 2001.
“How do you heal a country like that? Here’s how you do it — sport,” Kittell said.
A pre-symposium awareness event between 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. today in the Memorial Gym will give students a chance to try different soccer skills while using crutches.
Tuesday’s symposium events will feature a panel discussion at 11 a.m. with three representatives from nongovernmental organizations: Fields of Growth International, Right to Play and Soccer Without Boarders.
The discussion will take place in the SUB Silver/Gold Room.
Tuesday at 7 p.m., Alexander Wolff, a writer for “Sports Illustrated,” will give a speech in the SUB ballroom.
Starting at 10 a.m. Wednesday, there will be participant-driven workshops in the Kibbie Dome hosted by the three NGOs.
“I think it’s going to be incredibly engaging,” Salsbury said.
She said this is the first time the Borah Symposium has done anything like these workshops, at least since she arrived at UI in 2005.
Carly Lauffer, a senior international studies major and member of the Borah committee, said these workshops will be an opportunity to see what these organizations do and how they do it.
“We really get a chance as students to interact with these NGOs,” Lauffer said.
Fields of Growth promotes lacrosse around the world, teaching children leadership skills.
Soccer Without Boarders runs programs in underserved areas both within the United States and around the world.
The third organization, Right to Play, was founded by Johann Olav Koss, a four-time Olympic gold medalist in speed skating. Koss will give the keynote address at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Kittell said Koss started his organization after travelling in underdeveloped areas of the world. She said he saw places where children did not know how to play. He founded Right to Play to change that.
She said Right to Play is not an organization that simply talks.
“They realize it,” she said.
This idea behind the organization of this year’s symposium is for students to see the topic in the film, discuss it at the panel, participate in it and wrap everything together with the keynote.
“I think it’s going to be one of those topics that’s really inspirational to our generation,” Lauffer said.
Kasen Christensen can be reached at arg-news@uidaho.edu

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