Laureus USA believes in the power of sport to fight discrimination
Photo: USAG- Humphreys/Flickr
06.08.2018By Luca Arfini
Last week Laureus USA, a nonprofit organisation that aims to improve the lives of disadvantaged youth through sports activities, published its annual ‘State of Sport for Good Report’. The results show that 77% of respondents trust the role of their organisations in reducing discrimination within the local community.
“In today’s climate of increased discord and divisiveness we believe the strong message of inclusion sports can provide is more important than ever. We are thrilled that sport for development programs are supporting young people in reducing discrimination and positively engaging with their community,” said Benita Fitzgerald Moseley, CEO of Laureus USA.
Among the 546 organisations that were surveyed, 25 % fully completed the survey. The organisations involved in the research were selected according to two criteria: firstly, they had to use sport as a tool for social change; secondly, they had to deliver direct service to young Americans aged from 5 to 19 years of age.
While the group of youth reached by the included programs is diverse in terms of gender and ethnicity, almost 80% come from disadvantaged families, with more than 40% living in conditions of extreme poverty.
The survey finds that there is a need of an improvement in the internal practices and policies for staff training and development. While only 43% of the participant organisations declared that their staff was adequately trained to deliver programming for youth with a disability and solely 31% for young people engaged with the youth justice system; 70% of them agreed that their staff would benefit from additional training and resources.
This need is reinforced by the fact that the coaches, who are the main figures directly in contact with the youth, are under-prioritised when it comes to the paycheck. Their average annual salary amounts to one fourth of the organisation’s executive director’s annual salary.
“Despite being the primary point of contact with young people—and thus highly valuable in terms of program delivery and organizational impact—coaches continue to be prioritized least in terms of salary,” the report says.
The role of sport in reducing discrimination
89% of organisations surveyed reported that their program promoted positive engagement for young people from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds and 77% of them agreed that they had an influence in reducing discrimination within the community. Furthermore, 48% of the organisations noted an observable behavior shift in youth participants holding a greater respect for their peers coming from different ethnic background or with a different sexual orientation.
While 85% of organisations state that they have inclusive policies in place, there is still room for improvement with 35% of organisations reporting that young people on their programs have showed signs of discrimination against their peers.
“In today’s climate, we believe this emphasis on social cohesion is more important than ever,” the report says and qoutes the founding patron of Laureus USA, Nelson Mandela:
“Sport has the power to change the world... to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand... It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers.”