You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. For many students, a major part of their high school experience is representing their school by taking part in school sports.
There is a common misconception that, high schools typically have a wide array of sports teams available to students. But for many of the students in New York City’s Public School system, especially kids from African American and Hispanic communities,, their schools lack sports activities and teams. Last Tuesday, thirty students, coming from a dozen schools around the city, met up at city hall to achieve one goal: to give everyone a shot.
In the past, the Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL) has been criticized on how it hasn’t been transparent in granting certain schools access to athletic activities. Advocates for this equality are pushing for a bill that would force the Department of Education to publicly share how sports teams are chosen, funded, and the number of teams each school has.
The bill is being sponsored by councilman Antonio Reynoso for the 34th district of the New York City council. According to Reynoso, “What we found is over 17,000 black or Latin X have no PSAL teams, whatsoever.”
Over this past summer, a class action lawsuit was filed by New York Lawyers for the Public interest which stated that racial inequity in public school sports teams violated New York’s Human Rights law. According to the lawsuit, 83 public schools in the state don’t offer any school sports, and African Americans and Latinos are twice as likely to attend these schools. It also states that the DOE spends 17% more money on sports with white and asian students compared to those that are black and latino.
The crowd at city hall was not just limited to students who attend the schools with less access to these activities; many of the people present wanted to help their peers, as they realize the importance of sport to the school, its students, and the surrounding communities. Not only do these extracurricular opportunities provide a place for teenagers to excel in physical activities. but they teach students leadership skills and sportsmanship inside and outside of the classroom.
The benefits of having sports in schools is not limited to the student, but to the school as well. It generates school spirit in the student body, which can ultimately help communities gain more interest in the welfare of its local school.
With there being much debate surrounding the lack of diversity in New York City’s eight specialized high schools, pushing for equality in athletic opportunities in all schools, regardless of their student body, may serve as a balancing force. Sport has a unique power to uplift schools, and implementing this change is a preliminary step within this larger process of taking steps towards equality.
PSAL spokeswoman, Miranda Barbot, has been aware of the issue, stating “We are partnering with communities to expand access to PSAL programs for all New York City public school students.” With more advocates for the issue, attention has been rapidly growing, pushing the city a step closer to granting schools a more balanced number of extracurricular activities. .