Diversity & Inclusion
Statement from the Minnesota Youth Athletic Services, Inc.
When George Floyd was killed in police custody on Memorial Day, the moment tore open racial tensions locally and, as we are witnessing today, around the globe. Our entire community is deeply saddened by the tragic death, and we grieve the racial divide that continues to exist in our country.
We have all struggled to process a broad range of emotions over recent weeks – anger, frustration, sadness, disappointment, and fear – among many others.
Going forward as an organization, the MYAS will be committed to utilizing our platform to empower youth athletes to fulfill worthy goals by working to eliminate bias and racial inequality, which we recognize has not always been a major focus. In order to do so, we will be engaging in conversations, meetings, strategy sessions, and summits that allow us to take immediate and sustainable action that will make a difference for this generation of youth athletes and for the generations to come.
To quote Nelson Mandela: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers.”
Since the 1991 inception of the MYAS, one of our goals has been to promote cultural interaction through sport. We intend to focus on immediate actionable and sustainable steps to create, promote, collaborate, and foster best practices around diversity, racial equity, and inclusion for everyone involved in the youth sports experience.
Such steps would include:
- Holding Sports and Cultural Interaction symposiums and summits, which would be standalone events and would be connected to MYAS/Trusted Coaches-administered tournaments/events for athletes, coaches, and parents. Symposiums/summits would include all participating teams (i.e., inner city, suburban, greater MN) to engage in conversation that connects everyone in the youth sports community rather than simply being opponents in a competition. These events would be made available in collaboration with other youth sports organizations and members of the youth sports community. Collectively, we look forward to using sports as a vehicle to break down barriers and make it a priority to stand together with empathy by seeing through the lens of others in our community!
- Creating an MYAS Diversity & Inclusion Task Force to be comprised of diverse leaders from the Minnesota youth sports community. They would work directly with the MYAS Board of Directors, the MYAS Senior Leadership Team, and the MYAS staff to provide support, guidance, and accountability in developing education/training programs for inclusion/equity issues that would be infused into every facet of our organization.
- Creating, promoting, and implementing a job description and duties for Director of Diversity & Inclusion, which would be an additional board position within each parent-volunteer youth athletic association. The position would be added to the MYAS list of “best practices” for every youth athletic association throughout the state of Minnesota.
- Continue to provide service and support while listening to and collaborating/partnering with all members of the youth sports community in order to further enhance the opportunities for members of the Minneapolis and St. Paul Basketball Coalitions.
- Continue to promote and encourage employment opportunities through sports to individuals of all races, classes, and cultures that are connected to our organization. Such opportunities include officiating/umpiring, tournament directing, and any part-time or full-time positions that may become available within the MYAS.
As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit youth sports organization, the MYAS has a duty to fulfill our mission of enhancing the delivery of youth sports services to every youth athlete, coach, parent, and official and the associations that serve them. We must also actively fulfill our goals as an organization and do our part to make a change in the culture of youth sports relative to race and equity, while empowering others to make the change with us.
We must have the difficult conversations. We must stand together in the pursuit of justice and the elimination of the injustice of racism. We must unite to ensure mutual respect and compassion – both now and for our future.
Thank you for your time and dedication to youth sports!