Why (Sports) Equity Matters

Sports participation is a golden opportunity to equip youth with tools to help them have positive youth experiences and successful futures.

Unfortunately, Systemic Barriers Exist

The systemic barriers that hinder access to the positive benefits of youth sports result in the "Sports Equity Gap." This Gap refers to the disparities in access to youth sports experienced by children in low-income communities when compared to their wealthier peers. These barriers limit the opportunities for children from low-income communities to equitably participate in and benefit from youth sports.

What Are Some Of The Challenges?

  • Black and latinx youth are 2x as likely to reside in areas with subpar park space per capita.
  • Kids from households below $25k are 5x less likely to participate in sports.
  • 80 percent of young people, many poor, do not meet federal guidelines for daily physical activity.
  • Kids in poor communities have an obesity rate that is nearly 2x higher than kids from affluent communities.
  • Youth ages 6-18 from low-income homes quit sports because of the financial costs at six times the rate of kids from high-income homes. (Source: Project Play)
  • Latina girls have the lowest participation rates. 

Source: The LA84 Foundation

Equity, in its simplest terms as it relates to racial and social justice, means meeting communities where they are and allocating resources and opportunities as needed to create equal outcomes for all community members. (United Way)

An Equity approach MATTERS because it recognizes each person has different circumstances and needs, meaning different groups of people need different resources and opportunities in order to thrive.

The Purpose of PCA’s Sports Equity Initiative’s work is to unlock the power of sports for every child by working to eliminate the barriers to participation experienced by kids in low-income communities across the country, so that every child, regardless of social or economic circumstance, has access to a positive youth sports experience.

When PCA says equity, we’re talking about not just equal access, but equal outcomes for kids living in low-income communities in youth sports. Our goal is to see equal outcomes in measures such as (but not limited to):

  • Access- equal opportunities to take the field, court, pool, etc.
  • Retention- long-term participation
  • Fulfillment- youth feel their participation has been a positive one

Though “equity” and “equality” are often used interchangeably, they serve different roles. Equality emphasizes access—like getting into college, finding housing, or joining youth sports. However, just ensuring equal access doesn't necessarily address deeper disparities. True equity delves deeper, targeting not just access, but also ensuring fair outcomes for all involved.