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8 Takeaways: Sports Can Battle Racism Lessons, Challenges, and Opportunities


As part of our celebration of the one-year anniversary of our Sports Can Battle Racism Initiative, we hosted a roundtable discussion focused on a Year of Learning on Wednesday, June 9th. In the past year, PCA has been focused on efforts to generate conversation and positive change regarding racism, equity, and inclusivity in youth sports and our communities.

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Here are 8 takeaways from the roundtable that we want to highlight:

1. The importance of having a conversation around race in sports.

As Glen Matsumoto stated during the discussion, PCA is all about teaching life lessons. Because current events resonate for kids, they can better relate and understand when serious topics are discussed through the lens of current events. Hosting webinars like this one is essential to help support conversations about race.

2. How sports have been used as a tool to connect communities.

According to Marti, we learn a lot from history. Much like learning objectives in school where we learn about specific moments in history, it's also important to learn where sports have been used as a way to battle discrimination, such as Jackie Robinson’s first game in the MLB.

3. Why it’s so important for trainers to be vulnerable.

Michael and Marti discussed how you won’t know about certain situations from kids if you don’t ask. The first piece of the workshop looks at the importance of understanding marginalized perspectives, active listening, and giving people the opportunity to share and break their silence. In order to start breaking the negative cycles, we must continue to learn and grow together.

4. The importance of language.

How do certain words lead to how we treat ourselves and other people?

Trennis shared that language can be a slippery slope. You can tell the truth and still be loving and kind.

Glen relayed the importance of having what are often tough conversations. If you don’t have the conversation, you have an implicit assumption that the language you are using is okay

Marti concurred and stressed the importance of taking emotional breaks throughout tough conversations.

5. The use of consistent messaging.

Michael described how before practice starts, he talks about anything but sports, which allows the kids to talk, and in turn, you will receive information from them that you would have never learned if only sports were talked about.

6. The difference between listening to understand vs. listening to respond.

Marti stated that you need to meet people where they are and have a growth mindset. Michael talked about how many situations do not have a textbook response because learning where the kid is coming from and getting as much information as possible by listening to understand is how you build positive relationships. Glen added that the best leaders are the ones that listen first to understand where that individual is coming from.

7. Utilization of tools from the PCA workshops & positive trends.

The importance of the word “culture” is something Michael discusses in the roundtable. The culture of our program is building student-athletes to be prepared for their next step in life. Keeping parents and/or guardians in the loop is essential. Parents know it is about a lot more than sports for us. At the end of the day, the parents know that coaches are there for the kids.

8. Personal changes and lightbulb moments as you go through this work

Glen acknowledged that we must have a deeper awareness that there is something fundamentally challenging going on in society that needs to be changed

Marti discussed the importance of stretching your growth, grace, and humility.

Michael focused on being the best listener.

From Trennis' perspective, it is now my responsibility to those that are in that space to make sure that I am using my voice now that I didn’t have when I was young to give them an environment that they need to flourish

Thank you to Michael, Trennis, Glen, and Marti for this insightful roundtable, and thank you, everyone, for tuning in!

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