Back Draft: Takeaways And Impressions From Cleveland’s NFL Draft

Sports Summit Showcases Cleveland’s Athletic Assets

The Greater Cleveland Sports Commission hosted a summit at Progressive Field during the Draft, featuring over 30 local sports programs, community partners and social initiatives working to diversify and expand athletics in marginalized communities. 

The Cleveland Power of Sport Summit ran concurrently with the Draft, hosting workshops, demos, panel discussions and networking opportunities to attendees. 

Wheelchair basketball is the best-known of disability-adapted sports, and though Adaptive Sports Ohio brought wheelchair basketball to the summit as their demo, they offer a wider range of sports for the physically disabed. “We offer track and field,” agency representative Karen explains, “and they also have racing bikes, we are part of a sled hockey conference, and we’re going to have power-wheelchair soccer. We have some really cool specialized chairs that are made for power soccer. We also have wheelchair rugby, which is primarily for people who have an impairment of some sort in their limbs. Could be someone missing an arm, a leg, could be just a finger on a hand. Coming in the summer we’ll have wheelchair tennis and softball.”   

The movement for racial equity was very much on display at the summit. Urban clothing designer and artist Glen Infante brought his talents to life in front of attendees, painting a canvas of several notable non-white figures in sports history. Cleveland chapters of the American Indian Movement and the National Association of Black Journalists spoke to attendees about their missions.  

Pop Music’s Cultural Impact Takes Center Stage In Rock Hall’s Super Bowl Halftime Show Exhibit 

From Prince’s wood-platform-heel boots to Bono’s U.S. flag jacket, artifacts of some of pop music’s most iconic performances by way of the NFL’s biggest night are on display at the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame now into September. 

Entry to the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame is always free for city of Cleveland residents.

Cleveland Public Library And Legal Aid Society Beneficiaries Of NFL Foundation Funds

The NFL Foundation donated $75,000 each to the Cleveland Public Library and the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland during the Draft. Former NFL players Will Shield and Kevin Dyson presented the cheque and even hosted a Storytime for local children. 

Credit for this photo: Cleveland Public Library

“The Library will create video conference rooms for people to connect to vital services such as legal assistance and telehealth appointments,” explains CPL’s Kelly Woodard. “The rooms will be located at the following branches: Rice, Mt. Pleasant, and Carnegie West.  A portion of Cisco’s donation will also fund children’s programming at Cleveland Public Library.”

The Legal Aid Society will be using the money to expand its laptop lending initiative. “The program is meant to help bridge the digital divide,” says Legal Aid’s Danilo Powell-Lima. “A lot of people may not have access, especially with the Covid-19 pandemic, they may not have access to a laptop and a lot of hearings have gone virtual, so the laptop lending initiative grew out of that.”

This event kicked off the NFL’s Inspire Change grant project, which aims to both support social justice and bridge the technology gap in impoverished areas.   

Hospitality Industry Hoping “Strong Uptick” During Draft Kickstarts Economy 

From Destination Cleveland Senior PR Director, Emily Lauer: “While economic impact is in the process of being calculated, the NFL Draft appeared to have a largely positive effect on Cleveland’s hospitality industry. After a very challenging year due to the coronavirus, downtown businesses in particular saw an influx of residents and visitors over the three-day event. With 160,000 people in attendance, bars, restaurants and hotels experienced a strong uptick in business. We’re hopeful the event served as a spark to reignite downtown’s hospitality economy.”

Leave a Reply