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A service for global professionals · Tuesday, February 7, 2023 · 615,590,272 Articles · 3+ Million Readers

AG Healey, Education Leaders and Boston Sports Teams Hold Conference at TD Garden on Preventing and Addressing Hate in School Sports 

BOSTONAs 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.  

 

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Statements of support  

 

Dan Lebowitz, Executive Director of The Center for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern University 

“The Addressing Hate in School Sports Conference is an empowering, intentional, and multi-intersectional gathering of government leaders, school administrators, athletic directors, coaches, staff, university partners, non-profits and other committed stakeholders, each fully vested in creating a sustainable culture of safety for high school youth, and similarly, for all those in, and tangent to, their communities, both on the playing field and beyond. The conference is the beginning of a large-scale initiative, including 12 regional trainings, that will allow schools statewide to engage in facilitated conversations that help ideate, innovate, and implement how we can move beyond a present, too often typified by hate and hurt, to a future that is monument to health and healing, and that further provides a pathway to becoming the best versions of our individual and collective selves. We, at the Center for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern, applaud Attorney General and Governor Elect, Maura Healey, for her unwavering commitment to the youth, families and communities of the Commonwealth. We remain grateful for her thoughtful leadership and forefront vision in creating this important participatory platform of positive change agency and sustainable change. Additionally, we’d like to thank the devoted staff of the AGO and all the other partners who have worked tirelessly to make this event and initiative both possible and a top priority.” 

 

Phil Fogelman, ADL New England Education Director 

“Over the past few years, ADL has responded to countless incidents of antisemitism, racism, and bigotry in middle and high school sports programs. It is time to go from responding to preventing. We are grateful to AG Healey’s leadership for convening this important conference and empowering coaches and administrators with the strategies and tools to be able to prevent and respond to bias incidents and the skills to foster healing and education in their communities in the aftermath. Everyone has the right to play without any fear of being targeted with hate or bias.” 

 

Boston Bruins and TD Garden 

“We are lucky to live in a sports city with teams that understand the significant power and influence of their platforms and work so closely together on important initiatives despite being competitors in our market. At the Bruins we continue to make our Hockey is For Everyone work a priority by providing educational resources and fostering inclusivity to drive out hate in sports. This work is ongoing as we strive to be the best we can be on and off the ice. Thank you to AG Healey and her office for putting together this great event.” 

 

Rich Gotham, Boston Celtics Team President  

“The great Bill Russell once said there is no such thing as other people’s children. We all have the responsibility to ensure that kids coming up are afforded the right to learn and play sports in an environment free of hate and discrimination. The Celtics are committed to doing our part and applaud the Attorney General’s office for launching this initiative.” 

 

Sarah McKenna, Senior Vice President, Fan Services & Entertainment, Boston Red Sox 

“The Boston Red Sox are proud to engage with the Attorney General’s office and with Massachusetts school administrators, athletic directors, and educators on the crucial topic of addressing hate in school sports. Professional sports clubs like ours have a powerful platform with the capacity to reach millions, and the Red Sox are committed to using ours to promote respect, unity, and inclusion, and to provide a safe and welcoming experience for all. A conference like todays, and the regional trainings that will follow, will allow attendees and their colleagues to use their platforms in their own communities. We thank Attorney General Healey and her office for the opportunity to join all of Boston’s professional sports teams to share this message.” 

 

New England Patriots and New England Revolution 

“Congratulations to the co-hosts and organizers of today’s conference. Addressing hate, in any form at any level, is critical to eradicating it. There are few things that bring communities together quite like the communal bond shared through sports. Whether as a spectator or participant, sports have a unique unifying power. We hope all participants learn the importance of embracing differences, supporting one another, and working together to achieve success. The values learned through the lessons of teamwork at a young age can propel you to achieve great things in life. We applaud all who use their sports platform to contribute to a team and make those around them better.” 

 

Molly Goodwin, Owner of the Boston Renegades 

“At our core, the Boston Renegades are committed to fostering an inclusive sports environment where women of all backgrounds can thrive. We believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to play sports in a way that fosters growth. It is incredible to see the collaboration between state leaders, professional sports teams, school administrators and coaches, working together to ensure that the youth of Massachusetts have a positive sports experience. Together, we must take a stand against hate and continue to use sports as a platform that unites communities. We’d like to thank Maura Healey and the Attorney General’s Office for their support of women’s professional athletics and their commitment to prevent and address hate and bias incidents. Our collaboration with the AG’s Office and the city’s educational institutions promotes a positive and inclusive sports environment at all levels. We recognize the power of sports to drive social change, and we are proud to be part of this initiative.” 

 

Colleen Coyne, President of the Boston Pride 

“As someone who grew up loving sports and as a parent of youth athletes, I believe this type of event is critical. Sports are supposed to be a safe place for kids to go to continue to learn and develop into well-rounded citizens. It is crucial that the leaders in our schools have the training and tools they need to ensure every athlete has the best possible experience. I am honored to be a part of today’s conference.” 

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