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Putting Sports Diplomacy To Work

Putting Sports Diplomacy To WorkA graduate of Tufts' Fletcher School has brought his masters thesis to life through his innovative approach to international diplomacy. St. Petersburg, Fl.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [06.25.01] While at Tufts' Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in 1981, Dan Doyle wrote his thesis on the use of sports to foster international diplomacy. Two decades later, Doyle is bringing together 2,000 kids from 150 countries to compete in the third World Scholar-Athlete Games this week -- demonstrating once again that his vision at Fletcher continues to be an innovative blueprint for success.

"For 15 years now, the Institute for International Sport has been a unique and innovative part of the sports culture in this country, whether by running seminars that deal with hot button sports issues of the day, or by using sports to bring disparate people together," wrote Providence Journal columnist Bill Reynolds.

During the last couple weeks, Doyle has done both.

According to the Journal, the Institute just hosted "some of the biggest media names in the country" for an ethics seminar. And now, Doyle is hosting the World Scholar-Athlete Games.

"It's the teenage version of what the Olympics should be," Doyle said in the Journal.

But Doyle hopes the teenage athletes will leave with more than just medals -- the Games are designed to show the competitors that they have more in common, than apart.

And it appears to be working. This week, the playing fields are filled with examples of kids using sports to build bridges where formal international diplomacy has failed -- Palestinian and Israeli athletes are playing on the same basketball teams; Catholic and Protestant teenagers are working together on the soccer fields.

Doyle told the Journal that he hopes the lessons in diplomacy taught through the Games will help shape foreign policy in the future.

"In 2001, we'll have 75,000 alumni, " he told the Journal. "At that time, most will be middle-aged and in positions of leadership."

Then, the Journal reported "[Doyle hopes] the problems that have plagued the world for so long, brought about not so much by miscommunication as non-communication -- might be readily remedied."

For now, Doyle's work has already been labeled a complete success.

"From those small beginnings, Doyle has built something that promises to keep alive the vision that sports have the power to heal," Reynolds wrote in his column on Sunday. "An impressive legacy -- One we should not take for granted."

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