Spirit of Competition was a two-year thematic initiative that examined five core elements of competition: civility, rivalry, innovation, passion and failure.

We chose the theme (which ran 2012 to 2013) in part because it was a presidential election year, the Super Bowl was being held in Indianapolis and because we all engage in competition every day—whether it’s through sports, business, politics, the arts or other means.

This was our second Indiana Humanities multiyear thematic initiative, and like Food for Thought before it, we designed this theme to celebrate, examine and question the role a particular thing plays in our daily lives. Rather than food, however, this time it was competition. Through the lens of athletics, politics and economics, we examined five core elements of competition: civility, rivalry, passion, innovation and failure.

Key pillars of the theme included a custom-designed and interactive traveling exhibit, a welcoming project for the 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee, an essay contest and more.


Program Highlights


Interactive Traveling Exhibit

This experience included short films and interactives and engaged visitors across the state in thought-provoking conversations about the core elements of competition. Featuring Indiana stories about well-known and lesser-known competitors, this exhibit was designed in partnership with the Indiana Historical Society and visited locations such as the Indiana State Fair, the Indianapolis International Airport and small museums and libraries.


Teacher Toolkits

Designed by a curriculum advisor, these resources helped educators encourage students to think, read and talk about elements of competition through lessons integrated with social studies, English, civics and physical education curriculum.


Super Kids, Super Welcome

This humanities-inspired project with the 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee encouraged Hoosier kids to create a “welcome card” for 18,000 hotel rooms in central Indiana. We exceeded our goal and collected more than double that amount. National journalists and visitors complimented the effort, such as The New York Times.

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Essay Contest

Students in grades 4 through 12 participated in the 2nd Annual Ag Essay Contest titled “Our Food, Our Farmers: Feeding the World.” This year’s contest explored Indiana’s role as a global agricultural leader. Sponsored by Indiana’s Family of Farmers and Indiana Humanities, the essay contest encouraged students to recognize and share all the ways Indiana agriculture plays a positive role in their own lives, as well as in the lives of those around them.


INconversation with Will Allen

The perfect transition from Food for Thought to Spirit of Competition, this event featured Will Allen, a former Miami Hurricane basketball star who has become an influential and inspiring urban farmer. The son of sharecroppers and the first African American to play college basketball for the University of Miami, Allen is widely considered the leading authority in the expanding field of urban agriculture. On Jan. 13, 2012, he received the NCAA’s top honor to his long list of accolades: the prestigious Theodore Roosevelt Award.



Contact Beth Kloote, Office Manager / Executive Assistant:
bkloote@indianahumanities.org | 317.616.0007

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