Racial Equity and Access In Youth Sports Task Force – July Convening Recap

Last week in Oakland, CA, the Racial Equity and Access in Youth Sports Task Force held its third monthly convening, which seeks to outline a sports equity agenda to help level the playing field of youth sports as a powerful way to reduce systemic barriers facing kids in low-income communities of color.

The Task Force comprises community leaders throughout Oakland who serve in leadership roles for community-based organizations, school districts, afterschool programs, sports leagues, advisory councils, and Oakland-based professional athletes, who together have access to levers to make change. 

We are eager to share the latest updates of this important work for our communities in the coming days. Today, we wanted to first share a short film of the community leaders and founders of the group coming together in a roundtable format to discuss what success of the Task Force looks like in their words.

RACIAL EQUITY AND ACCESS IN YOUTH SPORTS TASK FORCE

Meeting Notes – July 20, 2021

The Racial Equity and Access in Youth Sports Task Force gathered for the second time in the continued efforts to outline a sports equity agenda that aspires to create a racially equitable, socially just society and to bring youth sports in low-income Black and Brown neighborhoods up to par with privileged communities. Collectively, the group believes youth sports are a powerful way to reduce systemic barriers and improve the quality of life for young people. The Task Force is committed to finding community solutions to enable access to safe and quality sports experiences in our most under-resourced neighborhoods.

The second meeting focused on the continued foundation building of the sports equity agenda the group will create. Together the group examined six interdependent conditions that typically play significant roles in creating and maintaining inequity in youth sports and began to unpack how these conditions exist with varying visibility to stakeholders within the local youth sports space.

System Conditions Discussed:

  • Policies
  • Practices
  • Resource Flows
  • Relationships & Connections
  • Power Dynamics
  • Mental Models

A key point in the discussion was that while these conditions, as they relate to youth sport, can be independently defined, measured, and targeted for change, they are also interconnected and interact with each other.

The group explored how the less explicit conditions are the most challenging to clarify but can have huge impacts on our work, shifting the system that defines youth sports. Task Force members must ensure that they pay sufficient attention to the relationships, power dynamics, and especially the underlying mental models (such as racism and gender biases) embedded in the systems in which we work.

Ultimately, four Equity Gaps were identified to focus on:

  • Lack of Investment
  • Opportunities to Participate
  • Leadership Positions
  • Volunteerism

In August, the group will continue to examine these gaps, the systems that create them, and begin identifying more concrete goals and strategies to combat them.

About the Racial Equity and Access in Youth Sports Task Force: 

The Task Force comprises community leaders throughout Oakland who serve in leadership roles for community-based organizations, school districts, afterschool programs, sports leagues, advisory councils, and Oakland-based professional athletes who together have access to levers to make change. 

This hyper-localized approach provides a framework for community stakeholders to work together to ensure kids have access to sports and a coach mentor outside the home.

The group will convene monthly and deliver a sports equity agenda for implementation in early 2022.

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