In full transparency, the following is a press release from the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office submitted to SOURCE media.
BOSTON – As part of a new collaborative effort to prevent and address hate and bias in school sports, Attorney General Maura Healey partnered with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents (MASS), the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA), and the Massachusetts School Administrators’ Association (MSAA) in hosting a conference called “Addressing Hate in School Sports” which provided school administrators, athletic directors and staff, coaches, and referees from across the state with programming and information on best practices to build positive environments and prevent, report, and address hate incidents.
The day-long conference, held today at TD Garden, was planned in collaboration with Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society, ADL New England, and other community organizations, and featured representatives from the Boston Bruins, Boston Celtics, Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots, Boston Pride, Boston Renegades, and the New England Revolution.
A keynote speech was delivered by Boston Celtics Legend Dana Barros.
“As a former student athlete and coach, I know that sports can be a powerful unifier,” said AG Healey. “Today, we brought together coaches, athletic directors, and educators who are committed to ensuring that young people can participate in school sports in a safe and inclusive environment. I am grateful to all our community partners in this collaborative effort and look forward seeing these best practices put to work.”
Recognizing the power of sports to drive social change, and in response to a rise in reported hate-based and hazing incidents across Massachusetts, the conference is part of an initiative the AG’s Office launched with educational organizations earlier this year during a virtual call-to-action.
“Sports are an important piece of school life, whether you’re an athlete or sitting in the stands,” said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley. “Sports teams and events should be places where everyone feels welcome and respected, and I hope that this conference will empower schools and athletic officials to build a more positive culture for our students.”
“There is no place for hate in our society, and our school athletic programs have an obligation to set those standards and expectations,” said Dianne Kelly, Revere Public School Superintendent and President of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents. “The Addressing Hate in School Sports Conference brings superintendents, principals, athletic directors and coaches together focused on the goal of creating the individual and team culture that supports the diversity of our collective communities.”
“MIAA and MSAA are committed to providing the support and resources our members need to promote behaviors that instill respect for self, team, opponents, officials, rules and the game itself,” said Robert Baldwin, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association and the Massachusetts School Administrators’ Association. “We are excited to be working with the Attorney General’s Office and other partners to utilize the collective power of positive influence to help student athletes and teacher-coaches serve as role models to empower ALL participants in the process of positive decision making. When teacher-coaches, student athletes, and game officials choose the privilege of participating in interscholastic athletics, they assume the responsibility for right action.”
Today’s event provided attendees with information from panelists on how to recognize bias and hate, learn best practices, hear experiences and lessons from school and athletic leaders in preventing and addressing hate, and ways for coaches, athletic staff, and organizations to build positive and inclusive environments.
Following today’s event, regional trainings across the state will be conducted in 2023 by Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society to provide more in-depth training and equip school and athletic program leaders with the tools they need to empower and support their students and to prevent and address hate.
For more information on the AG’s initiative on addressing hate and bias in sports and to sign your school up for upcoming programs and trainings, click here.
Today’s conference was made possible in part by Director of Strategic Initiatives Elise Yannett, Civil Rights Division Chief Abigail Taylor, Children’s Justice Unit Director Liza Hirsch, Advance Coordinator Katherine McGee, and Executive Bureau Assistant Sage Scott, all of the Attorney General’s Office.