JT's Blog will be a weekly addition to the US Youth Soccer Blog. John Thomas "JT" is the Assistant Director of Coaching Education for US Youth Soccer.
Topic: Racist Comments made by U-15 girl towards teammate.
Direction needed on how to handle by Soccer Club.
I think it would be an important starting point to discuss the dynamics of the different groups. Too often, any attempts to raise awareness about race relations, history, etc. are met with indifference and apathy by most because of the perception of modern equality.
Racism doesn’t manifest itself in ways similar to Jim Crow, slavery, etc. so it must not exist or exist to an extent worth getting worked up over, is what many folks (white and black) contend. So it comes as a surprise when it hits you in the face, “what did she say, I can’t believe it.” Believe it’s still out there.
What’s important is to have open discussion as to how it came about and how the person received the information for both sides to include family members of the player. Kids don’t normally make this stuff up by themselves. It comes from some source, knowing the source will help you to provide the needed education to those that need it.
I would then shift the conversation to explore (as briefly as possible) some of the more significant events that have shaped the way we view race in this country. Topics like the Civil War, “emancipation”, the Reconstruction, what is/was Jim Crow, the Civil Rights Movement, the Little Rock nine, the current day Jena six. What is equality, what is respect?
As a wrap up, I would discuss the modern-day psychology of Black America culture. Why is it that the ‘n-word’ still has a lot of momentum and is hurtful? I would discuss the idea of personal responsibility versus social skills, and perhaps what is the urban plight.
I recognize how hard this might be considering that many adults haven’t really figured this out yet. I’m not trying to belittle children, but I’m not sure if they’ll completely have the faculty to process all of the above mentioned information. So I think that if you keep most of your discussion in modern-day context, you’ll be ok. This is not to say that you need to do some type of Hip Hop thing, but you might want to keep it simple. Diversity education will go a long way to assist with this issue. That’s what I think anyway. Don’t forget the Players Bill of Rights
US Youth Soccer, Players Bill of Rights:
Right of the Opportunityto Participate in Soccer Regardless of Ability Level
Right to Participate at a Level That Is Commensurate with Each Player’s Developmental Level
Right to Have Qualified Coaches
Right to Participate in Safe and Healthy Environments
Right of Each Child to Share in the Leadership and Decision-making of Their Soccer Participation
Right to Play As a Child and Not As an Adult
Right to Proper Preparation for Participation in Soccer
Right to an Equal Opportunity to Strive for Success
Right to Be Treated With Dignity by All Involved
Right to Have FUN Through
Soccer Club Organization
· Board of Directors, Coaches, Parents, Players, Board of Directors
· Accept the Players Bill of Rights
· Incorporate the Bill of Rights into the Clubs By-Laws or Constitution
· Support the Bill of Rights as a fundamental foundation for the Club
· Support the Bill of Rights as a fundamental aspect of their coaching program
· Communicate the Bill of Rights to the Parents and Players and Parents
· Embrace the Bill of Rights as a fundamental aspect of the player’s development
· Support the player’s, coaches and club by adhering to the Bill of Rights