Good Sports was founded on the principle that children from our most vulnerable populations in high poverty communities should have access to play and sport. It is not coincidence that the population we serve is overwhelmingly black and brown children because systemic racism is deeply intertwined with poverty in America. For 17 years, we have been providing equipment to children in low-income communities to ensure that they can have all the benefits of sport and physical activity as their more affluent peers.
So what? Why does sport matter when we are talking about racism? Because sports are incredibly powerful in breaking down societal and systemic barriers. Samuel Johnson said, “Prejudice, not being founded on reason, cannot be removed by argument.” We cannot simply say that we want to end racism. We have to take action and teach people to see one another differently. And that is where sport can help make a difference.
If done thoughtfully, when children of different colors play together, they begin to appreciate and value their differences and similarities. They might see their teammate who takes the best shots on goal or the one that runs the fastest or the one that tells the best jokes on the bench. When you have the opportunity to play side by side, you see your teammates as people for who they are and what they bring to the team. And that opens the door for you to see a black person as more than an athlete, a teenager in the park as a kid out having fun, and someone who doesn’t look like you not as someone to lock out but as someone to invite in and learn from.
In the words of Nelson Mandela “sport has the power to change the world”. Like him, we believe that sport is a platform for equity and equality. And at Good Sports, we remain steadfastly committed to making sure that sport is a part of the solution and we use our resources to help break down racial barriers, one ball at a time.
In addition to the ongoing work we do to provide equality in access to sports, Good Sports is committed to having more conversations, doing more listening, and spending more time in and with the communities of color that we serve. Particularly as white women who founded this organization, we are personally committed to educating ourselves and listening even more so we can do our part as an organization, team and partners to the organizations we serve.