The Public School Athletic League (PSAL) is set to launch 200 new sports teams in the next two years to increase access to sports for public school students.
The change comes partly in response to concerns that schools serving majority low-income, Black and Latino students in the city provided access to fewer sports teams and athletic activities than schools in wealthier districts and those serving majority white students. A class-action lawsuit in 2018 alleged that the city’s policies regarding sports teams violated the New York City Human Rights Law, as reported by City Limits.
Competition over sports fields, courts and pools has long been a concern in the city. In an area as crowded as Manhattan, it’s no wonder that schools struggle to provide adequate space for their students to exercise. They compete for space using the NYC Parks Department permit process, though many permits are turned down.
The new PSAL All-Access Plan update will include several different strategies to increase access to sports for public school students. A major one involves individual access; beginning in spring 2023, students attending schools with fewer than 6 sports teams will be able to try out and participate in sports at another school in their district.
Shared access programs, which bring together multiple NYC schools to create one larger, shared athletic program, are also being expanded. The PSAL currently runs seven shared access programs and plans to roll out nine more this school year.
The PSAL shared the following statement regarding the expansions:
“The goal of the PSAL All-Access program is to increase access to PSAL programming for schools that have traditionally been underserved. While there are schools in New York City with over 40 athletic teams, there are also schools that have historically had access to zero PSAL teams or minimal access as defined by having less than 6 teams.”
The organization described the issues faced by the schools with low PSAL access, including “difficulty filling rosters due to limited enrollment, limited school resources to supplement costs, staffing shortages, and facility access.”