This art exhibition might be the most fun you've ever had in a museum.
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DICK'S Sporting Goods

Are athletes more like artists than we think?

Can coaches teach athletes to be critical thinkers through sport?

Dania Cabello and Yvan Iturriaga (wall installation) and Miguel “Bounce” Perez (mural) created “Nepantla.” Photo by Emily De La Torre, courtesy of SOMArts Cultural Center.


These are some of the questions artist, activist, and educator Dania Cabello asks in her new “Game Recognize Game” art exhibition on display at the SOMArts Cultural Center in San Francisco.

Representing a deep inquiry into the power and potential of sports as a cultural platform for social change, Cabello curated the exhibition in partnership with the Oakland Castlemont football team, Soccer Without Borders, and Senda Athletics.

To create an immersive, experiential environment for intergenerational, hands-on activities within the exhibit, audience members of all ages were encouraged to play inside the gallery walls.

Exhibition title wall with Cece Carpio’s piece “Huktingan (The Royal Rumble)” in the background. Photo by Emily De La Torre, courtesy of SOMArts Cultural Center.

The works from Cabello and fellow artists Arjuna Sayyed, Cece Carpio, Ed Ntiri, Yonas Tesfai, Miguel “Bounce” Perez, and Yvan Iturriaga explore the historical precedents and contemporary context for athletes like Colin Kaepernick who are leveraging sports as a platform for social change.

Interactive installations like as basketball hoops and soccer setups invite gallery visitors to discover how play can transform public spaces and break down the barriers that separate people.

From the walls of a gallery to the border wall, Cabello wants visitors to imagine play as a physical language that can create space for greater freedom.

We spoke with Cabello about why this unique exhibition matters — especially now:

What inspired this exhibition?

I’ve been working for many years at the intersection of social justice and sport. I teach physical education teachers at St. Mary’s College and do a break dance-soccer-tricks hybrid called freestyle soccer. There was this moment of practice where the theory and practice came together to create something I had never experienced before.

I wanted to create something that looks at our current political moment and how we look at oppression, especially how joy could be used as a form of resistance.

The name “Game Recognize Game” came from the idea there’s a shared value and shared way that my friends who are artists and I live and move in the world. Some are athletes and some are artists — but they’re playful in their art or playful in how they work.

We wanted the subjects to reflect us — not an “othering” that happens in art spaces. And we wanted to honor the past: athletes who have used their platform explicitly and also propose a new way to think about our physical movements and how that can be used.

Opening reception attendees at “Game Recognize Game” play against Cabello and Iturriaga’s “Nepantla” wall installation. Photo by Emily De La Torre, courtesy of SOMArts Cultural Center.

Why was it important to make the installation interactive?

I built the 50-foot installation with another contributing artist because, through our own research and studying the borders between Palestine and Israel (or the U.S. and Mexico), [we learned that] children will reimagine these barriers as a place to play.

The hope is that you don’t just come and kick and play as a metaphor, but actually think about how moving our bodies in playful ways in public spaces can create change. There’s really no structure — we’re not facilitating anything — the play just comes naturally.

What has the response been so far?

The response has blown me away.

There have been two different camps: One, those who had not previously thought of sport as a space of critical reflection, [and] that it was just reproducing violent masculinity.

And two: Those who understood sport but found a new liberating element to it. From every generation — babies crawling, elderly folks — they’re moving, dancing, drawing.

Opening night was a euphoric, joyful manifestation. You can’t really tell people to move like that. It just happened. I’ve also finally been getting offers to reach larger audiences and to work with sports organizations and others on policy change.

Soccer freestylers at the “Game Recognize Game” opening reception. Photo by Martín Xavi Macías, courtesy of SOMArts Cultural Center.

How can art break down barriers that sport cannot and vice versa?

Sport, in its purest form, is one of the most beautiful artistic expressions. There’s something inherently artistic about the movement of bodies. Playing and performing is extremely creative when you remove the lines and boundaries of sport.

For me, my work has been about not just highlighting that but rethinking how the artistic part can influence the instruction of sport.

Could it not just be Kaepernick using it to make a political statement, but all athletes being educated to be critical thinkers? And could coaches and athletes consider not just the act of playing, but the intention with which you’re playing, such that instruction is improved to prevent the perpetuation of gender inequality and other types of injustice?

There’s an artistic expression and performative part of play. Kaepernick inspired the narrative — and he’s an important figure — but it’s about us.

The change is going to come from us as the masses.

This story was produced as part of a campaign called "17 Days" with DICK'S Sporting Goods. These stories aim to shine a light on real occurrences of sports bringing people together.

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

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Over the past six years, it feels like race relations have been on the decline in the U.S. We've lived through Donald Trump's appeals to America's racist underbelly. The nation has endured countless murders of unarmed Black people by police. We've also been bombarded with viral videos of people calling the police on people of color for simply going about their daily lives.

Earlier this year there was a series of incidents in which Asian-Americans were the targets of racist attacks inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Given all that we've seen in the past half-decade, it makes sense for many to believe that race relations in the U.S. are on the decline.

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Photo courtesy of Macy's
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Did you know that girls who are encouraged to discover and develop their strengths tend to be more likely to achieve their goals? It's true. The question, however, is how to encourage girls to develop self-confidence and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

The answer lies in Girls Inc., a national nonprofit serving girls ages 5-18 in more than 350 cities across North America. Since first forming in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War, they've been on a mission to inspire girls to kick butt and step into leadership roles — today and in the future.

This is why Macy's has committed to partnering with Girls Inc. and making it easy to support their mission. In a national campaign running throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases to the nearest dollar or donate online to support Girls Inc. and empower girls throughout the country.


Kaylin St. Victor, a senior at Brentwood High School in New York, is one of those girls. She became involved in the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc. when she was in 9th grade, quickly becoming a role model for her peers.

Photo courtesy of Macy's

Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

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