Until everyone is equal, no one is free.
With that belief in mind, we are often looking at ways to eradicate social injustice. One means of improving race relationships is sports! In fact, sports are an incredibly positive outlet to address racial biases, especially in young children.
The sad truth is that racism is taught. People are not born hating another race or culture. Instead, it is ingrained at home or among peers.
When you think about the world of sports, it’s impossible to assign one race to a sport. That’s because sports participation includes diverse backgrounds. From soccer to baseball to basketball to volleyball, sports essentially teach kids to exercise bias awareness because the roster is oftentimes diverse. I think about my favorite professional teams, and the roster is truly a rainbow – different races and different ethnicities – and that is common with children’s sports teams, too.
To have a successful team, children must rely on each other, trust each other, and utilize each other. Team sports reduces individualistic mindsets and emphasizes the importance of “us” as opposed to “I.” Working to achieve a common goal impacts a child’s perspective and equips children to learn about and deal with people who are different from them. Teammates often become friends, so not only are kids joining a sports team to play an activity they enjoy, but they are also making friends in the process and diversifying their social circle.
If our children are only surrounded by people who look like them, they are robbed of opportunities for developing emotional skills, social skills, and heightened independent thinking. Sports are especially helpful, from a mental standpoint, for children that come from non-inclusive areas. When they enter a diverse sports world, they can confront potentially toxic perceptions of other people.
Sports allow children to have fun, play, make friends, and enjoy healthy competition. Sports also facilitate opportunities to reduce racial biases and promote inclusivity.
Win-wins across the board!