Op-Ed: Making The Team, Equity And Access In High School Sports

September 2, 2015

Schools Chancellor Carmen FariñaBy Chancellor Fariña

As part of our effort to provide the wonderful, well-rounded education all our students deserve, I am thrilled to announce that we are expanding the Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL), with a focus on adding teams at small schools and creating new girls’ teams.

Our student-athletes learn important lessons about teamwork, perseverance, school spirit and setting goals for themselves. In fact, studies have shown that playing competitive sports can even lead to better academic outcomes and help kids concentrate in class. Above all, playing sports is fun and a healthy and productive way to exercise your body and your mind.

Participating in high school sports is a richly rewarding and educationally valuable experience, which is why we are creating approximately 220 new teams – 3,000 roster spots throughout the city, about 70 percent of which will be girls’ teams. In addition, nearly 70 percent of the new teams will be part of the Small Schools Athletic League (SSAL), a division of PSAL for smaller schools with limited athletic offerings.

Over the next four school years, we plan to add nearly 500 new teams and by the 2019-2020 school year, we expect to have full parity between male and female athletic participation.

To provide even more opportunities to students, we created the Multiple Pathways League (MPL), designed to meet the needs of students who are overage and under-credited, as well as English Language Learners. Seven of this fall’s teams will be MLP and we expect to add more in the winter and spring.

There is no question that playing sports can have a dramatically positive impact on students’ lives. Studies have shown that playing sports helps adolescents build and maintain strong muscles, reduces obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease and can help relieve stress and anxiety.

As much as playing sports can help get you in shape and improve physically, there is also the sheer joy it brings and the lifelong camaraderie it creates among teens. To our high school students – I encourage you to try out for a team and for families and friends to cheer our athletes on. It is fun, healthy, and will create memories that last a lifetime.

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