George Floyd was murdered. Our hearts mourn for not only his family, but for those of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and every other Black family that has experienced the devastating loss of a loved one due to senseless police violence and anti-Black racism. These past few weeks have succeeded in shining a light on a deadly and destructive crisis we have endured for centuries: the ugly and undeniable truth of systemic anti-Black injustice. There is no easy solution to undoing centuries of systemic racism; however, daily, consistent actions taken individually and collectively — educating, reading, supporting organizations working on policy change, having conversations and listening, can begin to make a difference. There are community organizers, Black athletes and prominent coaches who have been at the forefront of social justice for decades and PCA is listening and ready to act. We hope the rest of the sports community will join us in fighting anti-Black racism.
Last Monday, PCA openly and decisively condemned all forms of bigotry, hatred, and violence. Black Lives Matter. Sports has the intrinsic power to transform lives and unify communities. When sports are done right, they cannot fix anti-Black racism alone, but the positive and inclusive actions of coaches, parents, student-athletes, organizational and school leaders throughout the country can start to reverse an age-old trend of systemic racism.
As a force in education through sports, we vow not to stop at condemnation. PCA will instead strive to be a driving force for reconciliation by partnering with coaches and leaders across the country, providing them with tools needed to foster a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion. We know that athletes and coaches can play a substantive role in furthering racial equality and social justice. The successful development of ANY athlete includes parallel development of courage, resilience, and character not limited to a field, court, pool or rink.
Great athletes and coaches have long been recognized as a source of entertainment, using their talent to leave us breathless with emotion as they seek the thrill of victory or endure the agony of defeat. But the greatest have done even more. Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Althea Gibson, Tommie Smith and John Carlos used the platform of sports to fight for social justice in a way that other Black Americans could not — Colin Kaepernick is a present-day example. They are all known as greats because their relentless courage changed worldviews, blazed trails and unlocked doors for greatness to follow. Not only on the athletic fields on which they thrived, but within the communities that needed them most.
Coaches in our country have a platform and responsibility to teach their athletes that they have innate value and dignity that are neither defined nor limited by their race, color, creed, gender, sexual orientation, or resources. Our children need inspiration and guidance from women and men of substance and character. As coaches, it is our responsibility to inspire and model this respect.
Thus, we call on all coaches to play an intentional and active role in ending bigotry and hatred. As coaches, we are motivated by the lore of the big win against a seemingly invincible enemy: systemic anti-Black racism. It’s time for all of us to commit to coaching teams that refuse to accept the idea that this opponent cannot be defeated. We owe it to our young athletes and their generation to show them the possibility of a better world, one in which bigotry, oppression, hatred, and violence are truly unacceptable. As their trusted coaches and leaders, we can prepare them for a world, in which they are not only invited to the table to discuss issues that impact them most, but they are asked and empowered to lead these conversations.
Positive Coaching Alliance Commitment to Change