In 1999, through the leadership of then NCAA President Dr. Cedric Dempsey and Dr. June Dempsey (Vice President of the AIFL and a renowned expert in continuing education), the America-Israel Friendship League (AIFL) introduced a curriculum for high school students entitled ‘Citizenship Through Sports’ to the Ministry of Education, State of Israel.
The curriculum, developed by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and the Citizenship Through Sports Alliance (CTSA), a coalition of professional and collegiate sporting organizations, utilizes experiences encountered through the participation in sports to teach leadership, fair play, respect, conflict resolution, tolerance and sportsmanship. “Each are universal qualities for good citizenship and are the essence for life” according to Olympic Gold Medalist Lenny Krayzelburg, who served as the first International Spokesperson for the program.
With the goal to utilize ‘Citizenship Through Sports’ to help address the growing occurrences of violence in Israeli schools, the America-Israel Friendship League entered into a partnership with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, State of Israel and the Academic Sport Association (ASA) in Israel.
Today and Beyond
In the many years since the inaugural July 2000 program conducted in Indiana, the U.S. – Israel ‘Citizenship Through Sports’ Student Athlete Exchange Program (CTSE), has directly involved American and Israel high school student athletes as well as impacted additional participants in their schools, communities and clubs. The use of the program has become an effective tool in addressing the occurrences of school violence. To date, adaptations of the curricula have been instituted in high schools throughout Israel. Segments of the program are also featured at local and national anti-violence seminars conducted throughout the country and have been introduced into the middle and elementary schools.
‘Citizenship Through Sports’ is also featured in the collegiate leadership conference sponsored by the Academic Sport Association (ASA) in Israel and the AIFL annually brings representatives from this conference to the United States to participate in the annual NCAA Student Sports Leadership Conference, which is attended by American student athletes from Division I, II and III.
- Student athletes participate in workshops promoting good sportsmanship, citizenship, tolerance and respect for diversity
- Participate in athletic competition in host country
- Undergo training to sharpen communication, problem solving and decision making skills