SportsUnited: Bringing People Together Through Sports

Fact Sheet
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
June 6, 2011

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ SportsUnited Office leads the U.S. Department of State’s international exchange efforts to bring the global community together through sports.

Using lessons learned on and off the playing field, SportsUnited focuses on empowering young people and underserved populations. Building on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vision of “smart power diplomacy,” which uses the full range of diplomatic tools—in this case sports—SportsUnited advances the United States’ foreign policy goals through international exchanges that foster mutual understanding.

SportsUnited engages people from around the world in three key ways: the Sports Envoy program, the Sports Visitors program, and Sports Grants that focus on empowering athletes with disabilities and underserved youth.

  • Sports Envoys are current and retired professional athletes and coaches that the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs sends overseas to conduct drills and team building activities, as well as engage youth in a dialogue on the importance of education, positive health practices andrespect for diversity. Since 2005, SportsUnited has sent more than 130 U.S. athletes to more than 40 countries to participate in sports envoy programs.
  • Sports Visitors are youth and coaches who travel to the United States for an exchange. Sports Visitor programs give young people an opportunity to discover how success in athletics can be translated into the development of life skills and achievement in the classroom. Since 2003, SportsUnited has brought more than 700 young athletes from more than 50 countries to the United States to participate in Sports Visitor programs.
  • Sports Grants are awarded annually to public and private U.S.-based non-profit institutions. These programming initiatives create ties between young people, youth coaches,and youth sports managers from overseas and their American counterparts. Participants on the two-way exchanges shareideas about four key themes—sports management, training sports coaches, sport and disability, and sport and health.

Since 2002, SportsUnited has awarded more than 80 grants for programs conducted around the world. In addition, SportsUnited partners with professional sports leagues, the U.S. Olympic Committee, and the National Sports Federations on youth-focused programming in sports ranging from baseball, basketball and volleyball to ice hockey, soccer, and swimming.

SportsUnited initiatives highlight the importance of teamwork, self confidence, hard work, and respect for others. For more information, please log on to the website of the Department of State’s SportsUnited Office at

PRN: 2011/909