The appalling death of George Floyd, the global protests that have followed and the powerful message of the Black Lives Matter movement has made every section of society take notice and confront an ugly truth.
Sport and physical activity has an influential role to bring about meaningful change and this period has rightly led our network and the wider sector to begin to reflect, listen, question, learn and openly discuss how to take positive action.
Our colleague Steve Nelson, Chief Executive at Wesport, has added his personal perspective here.
The current picture is not positive. Research by the Sport and Recreation Alliance (2018) showed that four in ten (40%) of BAME participants have endured a negative experience in sport or physical activity settings, more than double that of white participants. We know that fewer black people in England meet the recommended levels of physical activity each week and in spite of progress made to increase some aspects of diversity on our Boards we know there is still only 5% BAME board representation across our network. Our network staff survey also indicates that we are not yet representative of the communities we serve with around 88% of our workforce being white British.
Lee Mason, CEO of Active Partnerships said
“It is time to confront racism and tackle the inequality that exists across sport and physical activity, from grassroots participation through to the boardroom. Constructive work has already been started within our network and with the wider sector to address a number of these problems including a concerted effort to increase boardroom and staff diversity, but we can and must do more.
Active Partnerships have an important role to play, particularly at the local level, working with our communities across the country to create change. We are working closely with Sport England to provide funding and support to trusted organisations in our communities to tackle the systemic factors in peoples every day lives that mean that those from Black & other Minority Ethnic Groups remain less active.
But this can only be seen as the start, I am confident that this movement will galvanise action, and determined this should be not just this week, but over a sustained period of time”.
Systemic change must be made at all levels so that we can become truly reflective of our wonderfully diverse society. We can no longer rely on black role models at the elite level speaking out, we must join together to become better and to support every member of the sport and recreation community.
We must become more inclusive. We must create opportunities which are truly accessible. We must do more.
There is no easy solution and change will require a consolidated and sustained approach both from within and outside of our sector. It is time to face awkward questions, to become involved in uncomfortable conversations and to hold ourselves to account.