Rose Bowl Institute to Address Critical Sports Issues

Charlie Firestone

The launch of the Rose Bowl Institute, a nonprofit think tank that will seek to “highlight sports values and their impact on the broader society,” has been announced by officials for the Pasadena stadium and Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation.
“The institute will champion sportsmanship and leverage the power of sports to unite people everywhere,” according to an RBI statement. “More than any other venue in the world, the Rose Bowl Stadium sits in the American psyche as the place where natural beauty, sports competition, sportsmanship, leadership and healthy entertainment lives.
“Using the iconic stadium as a classroom, with a wide digital footprint and ‘sister cities’ around the nation, the institute will engage civic and business leaders, athletes, sportscasters, journalists, children and noteworthy panelists to highlight sports values and their impact on the broader society. The institute will initially concentrate on sportsmanship, leadership and citizenship initiatives.”
The institute’s launch will include a three-part dialogue on “Race and Sports,” which is set to begin on Thursday, Aug. 13, and be moderated by sports reporter and host Maria Taylor. Its panel will include author Taylor Branch, former soccer player Cobi Jones, football great Ronnie Lott and Major League Baseball educational consultant Sharon Robinson.
There will be a livestreamed Women’s Empowerment Symposium from Sept. 16-18 with former Secretary of State Madeline Albright as one of the keynoter speakers, and a series of private roundtable gatherings called Rose Table Dialogues.
Also planned are Center on Sports and Innovation, the Rose Bowl Sportsmanship Initiative that will recognize, encourage and give awards for outstanding acts of sportsmanship, and an annual conference where respected leaders will gather to help spark change in sports and in society.
“The Rose Bowl is not only a venue known for legendary sports moments, but also as a shrine to amazing sports values,” said Darryl Dunn, CEO/general manager of the Rose Bowl Stadium.
“The Rose Bowl Institute will reflect and celebrate the essence of the Rose Bowl as we look forward to celebrating our centennial in 2022 and instilling strong sports values in American youth to develop more engaged citizens. We are excited to partner in this amazing venture.”
Charlie Firestone, a former vice president of the Aspen Institute and longtime executive director of its Communications and Society Program, will serve as the institute’s inaugural president. The institute has begun to form an advisory board comprising leading sports, media, civic and business leaders. They include Vince Young, Ronnie Lott, Ann Meyers Drysdale, Julie Foudy, J.C. Watts, Dick Vermeil, Jessica Mendoza, Billie Jean King and others.
“This is the right organization, created at the right time, to address critical issues of sports values relevant to our democracy,” said Firestone. “Sportsmanship incorporates appreciation for the game, respect for the opponent, fair play and teamwork. All of those pertain to the vital role that citizens play in our society today. We are nonpartisan but not value-neutral. We will work for integrity, inclusion, equity and fairness, in sports and beyond.”
The Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation, founded in 2010, serves to ensure the protection, preservation and enhancement of the future of the stadium as a National Historic Landmark. It has established funding for key stadium capital improvement initiatives, heritage protection and, now, educational programming through the Rose Bowl Institute. The foundation relies on the generosity of supporters from around the world who are invested in the venue’s past, present and future.
“As Nelson Mandela observed, ‘Sport has the power to change the world,’” said Dedan Brozino, chief development officer for the foundation. “Sports is a unifier for communities and society, and it is our intent that the Rose Bowl Institute will leverage the spirit of this special venue to impact the mindsets of youth and community on togetherness.”
For information, email rosebowlinstitute@rosebowlstadium.com or visit rosebowlinstitute.org.
Formed in 2010, the foundation is a 501(c)3, tax-exempt organization that has established funding for key capital improvement initiatives, educational programming and heritage protection.

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