About

Sports Envoys

Sports Envoys are recruited by the U.S. Department of State’s Sports Diplomacy Division in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) in collaboration with American professional sports leagues, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committees, and national sports federations. Overseas, the Sports Diplomacy Division partners with U.S. embassy and consulate colleagues to plan and implement Sports Envoy programs. A U.S. nonprofit organization serves as the logistical implementing partner.

Sports Envoys channel their expertise and passion into positive social change through:By offering new energy, ideas, networks, and resources, Sports Envoys are part of a much larger strategy to engage foreign communities in unique and powerful ways. Sports Envoys are able to reach new audiences and inspire them with messages of resilience, unity, mutual respect, and hope. As role models for youth around the world, Sports Envoys use sport to advance and complement foreign policy objectives such as empowering women and girls, promoting access and inclusion for persons with disabilities, and providing historically disadvantaged communities with increased educational and economic opportunities. By working in tandem with U.S. embassies and consulates, Sports Envoys contribute to the U.S. State Department’s larger mission – to make the world more stable, sustainable, equitable, and secure.

U.S. embassies and consulates around the world collaborate with foreign NGOs, universities, sports leagues, and governments to tackle community challenges and enhance diplomatic relations. In coordination with the Sports Diplomacy Division in ECA, U.S. embassies and consulates submit proposals that address specific priorities within local communities. Upon receiving proposals, the Sports Diplomacy Division coordinates with national leagues, teams, and federations to identify and recruit the most dynamic Sports Envoys for each unique program mission. ECA’s Sports Diplomacy Division then coordinates among the Sports Envoys, the U.S.-based implementing partner, the in-country U.S. embassy or consulate, and their local partner to bring the 1-2 week program to life.

Want to learn more? Check out our Sports Envoy information booklet.

Sports Diplomacy Testimonial

The game of baseball has provided me with some of the most unique and interesting experiences of my life. One of those has certainly been the honor to represent the United States as a Sports Envoy.

This adventure started in 2007, the same year that I was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. That year we visited China, a country that was just discovering the sport of baseball and while it was still a somewhat unknown sport over there it was gaining momentum and there were pockets that we visited that had tremendous leagues and great enthusiasm for our national pastime. Since then we have embarked on visits to Japan, Nicaragua and, most recently, Prague in the Czech Republic. Each visit has been wonderful and, I hope, impactful not only to our traveling team but to the young people and coaches we have met, learned about and come to know.

Sports has a unique way of bringing people together. Participating in sports or even watching games together unifies people from different backgrounds, from avid fans to even casual observers. Sports can also be a source of inspiration and pain, generating the feelings of accomplishment and disappointment. In short, sports bring the humanity in each of us to the surface and provides the opportunity to share that with each other. At each location we have visited over the last decade plus, I witnessed the power of connection that baseball diplomacy brings us between people of different backgrounds, cultures and even languages.

Baseball diplomacy provides the setting for people from different parts of the world to experience how much more we are alike than we are different, that we can all enjoy playing a game and building strong bonds with each other by doing so. There is a language in baseball and sports in general that, I believe, is universal. Sports diplomacy promotes teamwork and communication. It provides a setting where young people can develop new skills and become empowered through hard work that leads to success. Bringing together children of different cultures through baseball and other forms of sports diplomacy breaks down barriers and offered positive in-person evidence against negative stereotypes people may have about each other.

Cal Ripken Jr, Sports Envoy

Interested in being an Envoy? Connect with us using the form below.