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Dolphins Key Component Of RISE Report

Posted Feb 3, 2017

Behind Dolphins owner Stephen Ross’ efforts, the Dolphins have led the way to promote and advance the message of RISE, the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality.

Considering it was Dolphins owner Stephen Ross who founded the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) in 2015, it only figured that the team would be featured among the three case studies presented at the RISE Super Town Hall on Friday.

Behind Ross’ efforts, the Dolphins have led the way to promote and advance the message of RISE.

The Dolphins were particularly active in 2016, and thus made for a perfect case study to go along with the efforts of the Seattle Seahawks and those of the WNBA’s New York Liberty.

The case study illustrated all the Dolphins did to advance race relations, among them the RISE Town Hall in September, the commUNITYTailgate before every home game at Hard Rock Stadium, and the Sheriff’s Office ride-along and community visits in December.

As written in the case study, “The Miami Dolphins’ efforts to promote meaningful engagement between law enforcement and local communities of color are a model for converting activism into action and illustrate the power of sports to bring people together to build relationships, heal divisions and promote a greater understanding for each others’ work and struggles.”

Here were the four conclusions presented in the case study:

Opportunity for internal deliberate, collective discussion

Players began the season with an internal players-only meeting to reflect on the actions of other players in the league and events of the preceding summer. This led to a collective understanding amongst the team of different perspectives and the desire of some of the players to raise awareness and seek to improve race relations.

Support at the highest levels

The decision of the four players — Arian Foster, Michael Thomas, Kenny Stills and Jelani Jenkins — to kneel during the anthem at the first game was immediately recognized and supported by those in positions of authority — the Miami Dolphins organization and owner Stephen Ross. Rather than creating an internal environment of tension and conflict, their actions were used as a catalyst for subsequent conversation and events. With this cohesive foundation, the players and Dolphins organization were able to link with RISE to coordinate resources, efforts and direction toward action on these issues in the South Florida community.

Intentional strategic planning

This internal support and dialogue allowed for the development of an organizational strategy at every level. It led to meaningful opportunities for respectful engagement across the perceived divide between community and local law enforcement officials. By providing a tangible forum for engagement, these discussions were able to go beyond simple airing of grievances to respectful and meaningful solution-oriented conversations.

Engagement and commitment

The integration of athlete leadership, club-wide support and the team’s partnership with RISE and other organizations and meaningful engagement from community stakeholders within a larger framework facilitated a lasting commitment from all parties to put the resulting ideas into practice in a concerted and measurable way.