Today, February 22nd, 2021, the Committee on Parks and Recreations Chaired by Council Member Peter Koo will be holding an oversight hearing examining the Parks Department’s permitting process for the use of athletic fields at parks. The Committee will also be discussing Intro. 1959, sponsored by Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez.
Intro. 1959 would establish The Mayor’s Office of Sports and Recreation. The Office would be responsible for creating strategies and initiatives to support sports activities throughout the city of New York and to create a pipeline for disadvantaged children to be placed in competitive sports programs and competitions. The bill will help the city centralize the DOE, DYCD, and the Parks Department’s sports initiatives.
Furthermore, the Mayor’s Office of Sports and Recreation would help increase and exceed the current number of youth that are connected with competitive sports opportunities. They will receive the support needed to continue expanding their skills. The office will also create the opportunity for sports institutions, like the Yankee Stadium, the Mets at Citi Field, the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, the Brooklyn Nets from Barclays Center, The New York City Football Club, New York Red Bulls, New York Rangers, among other major sports institutions to be an integral part of this initiative. The bill would help to make New York City become the best sports competitor in the country and around the world.
The Mayor’s Office of Sports and Recreation would also provide sports-related opportunities for students while promoting the role of sports in education and recreation. Additionally, the office would “consult with the city’s official marketing, tourism, and partnership organization to promote the city as a base for professional sports teams, make recommendations for the growth of professional, amateur and scholastic sports recreation and coordinate sports initiatives with other city agencies, including but not limited to the Department of Education and the Department of Parks and Recreation.”.
During the Hearing Council Member Rodriguez will be addressing the importance of increase sports equity and accessibility in low-income underserved communities. The Committee will be hearing testimonies from various advocates and professionals athletes.
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Among the leaders and institutions, either testifying today or supporting the bill is, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Nzingha Prescod, Olympic Fencer, and World Medalist, Peter Westbrook, Olympian, and Olympic Bronze Medalist, Row New York, The Armory, Bike New York, Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, The Environmental Justice Program, Asphalt Green, Kings County Tennis League, Van Cortlandt Titans Youth Football Program, Inc., Wendy Hilliard Gymnastics Foundation, Uptown Soccer, New York Road Runners, Hudson Community Sailing, Trident Swim Foundation, Street Soccer USA, Inc., Inwood-Manhattan Little League Baseball, Inc., Bameso USA, Grand Slam Foundation, Inc, Washington Heights Tennis Association, Inc., Coaches, trainers, and athletes among many more.
“Our goal is that the Mayor’s Office of Sports and Recreation will connect all youth to competitive sports opportunities across the City. The Office will help the city centralize sports programming. We need to make New York City a hub, where the youth who have the talent and who are ready to put in the hard work are also connected with the resources they need to reach their full potential,”
“Our goal is that the Mayor’s Office of Sports and Recreation will connect all youth to competitive sports opportunities across the City. The Office will help the city centralize sports programming. We need to make New York City a hub, where the youth who have the talent and who are ready to put in the hard work are also connected with the resources they need to reach their full potential,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. “This is about equity, everyone saw the disparities that were brought to light because of the Coronavirus. The majority of the communities who died because of COVID-19 came from communities that had higher rates of asthma, heart disease, and obesity. Sports is one area where we must balance the playing field. We need to connect the youth with quality sports opportunities and recreational centers.”
“Students across the city are suffering right now due to the lack of in-person learning, and that suffering has been compounded by a lack of physical activity. Physical education is not an elective that is nice to have – it is a critical component of a child’s physical and mental well-being. The programming must be equitable, and the infrastructure must be accessible for all children to reap the benefits. Weeks ago, I stood with student-athletes, parents, and coaches to demand the City re-open school sports, recognizing that these activities were critical for sustaining physical and mental health for our young people. We can’t continue to drop the ball on physical activity for our young people, especially at a time when they are spending hours on end in front of a screen. I have long advocated for better physical education options for all students, recognizing it is an essential component of students’ growth, and I thank Council Member Rodriguez for his partnership on this important legislation,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.
Rita Finkel, Co-President and Director of Armory College Prep said, “All of us at The Armory would love to see the establishment of an Office of Sports and Recreation to get all of New York City’s young people “on track’ to a healthier and brighter future!”
“The hearing for the Office of Sports & Recreation Bill is a milestone in our efforts to more equitably provide sport opportunities to the children of New York City. This is a moment to outline the power of sport to the Committee on Parks and Recreation and make the case for why the sport of all levels, recreational to high-performance, should be a universal offering regardless of family income, background, or geography. Thank you to the players involved!” said, Nzingha Prescod, Olympic Fencer, and World Medalist.
“As a former NYC Sports Commissioner, I fully understand the importance of having a mayoral office dedicated to enhancing the city’s multi-billion sports industry,” said Ken Podziba, President and CEO of Bike New York. “More importantly, I believe a newly created Office of Sports Development and Youth Performance will help transform the lives of the city’s most underserved populations and level the playing field to put many New Yorkers, especially our youth, on a better path to good health and success.”
“We hold the belief that opportunities to experience sports and achieve their benefits are a fundamental right for all children and are in agreement with Council Member Rodriguez that a bill focused on making this a reality is vitally important,”said Rachel Cytron, Executive Director, Row NY.
“Quality, accessible, and consistent youth sports programs will be a game-changer for the youth of NYC, setting them on a path for lifelong good health.” said Wendy Hilliard, Founder & CEO, Wendy Hilliard Gymnastics Foundation, USA Gymnastics Hall of Famer
“Quality, accessible, and consistent youth sports programs will be a game-changer for the youth of NYC, setting them on a path for lifelong good health,” said Wendy Hilliard, Founder & CEO, Wendy Hilliard Gymnastics Foundation in Harlem, USA Gymnastics Hall of Famer
“Children need and have a RIGHT to PLAY,” said Mara Mazza, Communications Director of Kings County Tennis League. “Access to play and youth sports is a racial justice issue. There are higher rates of disease and lower sports participation rates in Black and Brown communities, and these discrepancies can stunt the future economic empowerment of underserved and Black and Brown children. Any bill about a new sports and recreation office would be incomplete without an explicit focus on accessible sports programming to reach these communities. For the health and welfare of our children, more community-based play opportunities need to become available at a low-cost and close to children’s homes. Make this investment in local sports and recreation and youth sports, help rebuild and strengthen our underserved NYC communities during this challenging time of post-COVID recovery.”
Photo credit: Wendy Hilliard Gymnastics Foundation in Harlem.