Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Addressing Hate in School Sports Statement from the MIAA and M.A.S.S - Addressed to School Superintendents

An Update from Executive Director Robert Baldwin
Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA)

"We are all deeply troubled by the dis-regulated behaviors that continue to occur in interscholastic athletics, our schools and in our communities. We know you join us in taking very seriously our responsibility to help instill in student athletes a commitment to behaving with the utmost respect and dignity.

Over the past two years in particular, our country has begun a profound reckoning on race and racism. Many of our schools and districts are grappling with these topics and striving to be more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. MASS and the
MIAA are committed to engaging deeply in this work, too - so that we can make a difference in eradicating racism and all other forms of bias and hatred.

One of the greatest benefits of interscholastic sports is the opportunity to meet and interact with students from other communities and backgrounds. It is essential that students and adults approach those interactions with respect and civility. We believe we have a significant opportunity to begin placing greater emphasis on some of our other core responsibilities - particularly educational athletics, which includes sportsmanship and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

On December 8, over 400 district leaders (superintendents, principals and athletic directors) participated in the Addressing Hate in School Sports Conference hosted by the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office at the TD Garden. We are ready to initiate the next phase of this comprehensive plan with 13 regional trainings across Massachusetts. The two½ day trainings will be held on Friday and Saturday dates between March and May of this school year.

To be successful, a district training, comprised of a team of Superintendent, High School Principal, and Athletic Director that lead with one clear message regarding norms and expectations for behavior all sports programs, is imperative. The program delivered by the Northeastern Center for the Study of Sport in Society is designed to help this leadership team be better prepared to set the tone and expectations of your program to prevent incidents of bias, harassment, and discrimination - and to respond effectively to incidents when they do arise.

An email with the link to register for these trainings will be sent to you the week following February vacation. As superintendent for your district, you will be responsible for formally registering up to three district staff - preferably yourself, your High School Principal, and your Athletic Director - for attendance at one regional training. We are grateful for your leadership in encouraging your district's staff to prioritize attendance at these important trainings.

Let's begin the task of eradicating hate and bias to ensure that no one engaged in interscholastic athletics feels disrespected, unsafe, or unwelcome - on or off the playing fields. We believe that a united leadership utilizing the platform of interscholastic athletics can permeate our schools, communities, and society."

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