Coalition celebrates city’s sports equity legislation

Stephon Johnson | 6/6/2019, 6:29 p.m.
Black and Latino public school students celebrated a hard-won victory in May.
Basketball Pixabay

Black and Latino public school students celebrated a hard-won victory in May.

Last week, students gathered at City Hall to meet with City Council members to thank them for their support pledging to vote for Intro 242-B and Resolution 1010-A. Both bills are designed to address inequities in high school sports for Black and Latino students.

Fair Play student leader Obrian Rosario praised the city legislature for listening to their pleas and engaging with their story.

“I remember the hesitation in the eyes of the City Council members when the powerful youth of NYC spoke to them about their experiences with sports equity and why it matters to them on Lobby Day in December,” stated Rosario. “Even then, we didn’t back down. Elected officials are elected to represent the people—and the youth are a part of these people. We made sure they heard us and got an official majority to sign onto the bill. Fast forward five months later and the bill is being passed. No one could ever say that your voices don’t matter.”

Council Member Antonio Reynoso introduced Intro 242-B that requires the Public School Athletic League to make public their policies, procedures, resource allocation and decision-making criteria. Advocates have questioned PSAL’s methods that have led to inequities in the system for Black and Latino kids.

“All students deserve equal access to sports teams and resources; it is unconscionable that this is not the case today in public schools throughout New York City,” stated Reynoso. “Black and Latino students are twice as likely as their peers to attend schools that don’t have a sports team. Such staggering statistics offer reason to believe that these disparities are due to systemic issues in how the DOE allocates funding and resources to schools.”

In June 2018, the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, representing the student-led organization IntegrateNYC, filed a discrimination lawsuit against the New York City Department of Education and the Public School Athletic League accusing them of engaging in racial discrimination. According to the lawsuit, the NYPL believed that the DOE and the PSAL denied Black and Latino students equal opportunity to play high school sports. There are thousands of Black and Latino high school students who attend schools that don’t offer any team sports.

IntegrateNYC Executive Director Sarah Zapiler said the passing of this legislation could be attributed directly to the people it affects.

“We celebrate action taken by our elected officials to support students’ vision for a future where fair play is possible for every student,” stated Zapiler.

According to the Fair Play Coalition, the average Black or Latino high school student has access to approximately 10 fewer teams than the average student of other races. Council Member Mark Treyger, chair of the Committee on Education, congratulated Reynoso and the coalition on the legislation and emphasized the importance of transparency in all aspects of the education system.

“Intro 242-B will require the Department of Education to report on funding for after school athletics, promoting accountability and transparency, and ensuring that all public school students have access to sports,” said Treyger. “Physical activity is a necessary component of health and wellness, and sports programs and facilities should be accessible and available to all students who wish to participate.”