Public Affairs, The California State University

Encouraging Positive Change in Sports

By Stephanie Thara

Women's Soccer at Cal State Fullerton

With 22 campuses participating in intercollegiate athletics, the CSU values the ability of sports to bring spirit to the campus and create an atmosphere of kinship among students, faculty, staff and the community. The CSU strives to enhance this important part of the campus community by creating partnerships, formulating research groups and maintaining facilities that encourage equality in sports.

Committed to ensuring that students have equal opportunities to participate in intercollegiate athletics, the CSU publishes an annual report that highlights each campus’ accomplishments in encouraging the participation of female students in athletics, increasing expenditures for women’s athletic programs and garnering grants-in-aid/scholarships for female student athletes.

A small group of faculty members within the Department of Kinesiology at San Francisco State created the Research Group for Studies in Physical Culture, Sport, and Education to examine the various issues that arise in sports and can be addressed within sport systems, including gender, race/ethnicity, social class and sexual orientation.

“We are looking for ways to use sports as a vehicle for change,” said Susan G. Zieff, SFSU professor and a founding member of the research group. “Faculty and graduate students actively work in the community to examine how sports can increase access, expand opportunities and improve life.”

The group brings together experts to share collective knowledge and generate a new understanding on the sport culture, monitors the cultural and political climate for signs of discrimination and assists in the development of policies for the governance of physical activity in schools.

Cal State East Bay’s Center for Sport and Social Justice Cal State East Bay’s Center for Sport and Social Justice (CSSJ) hosts panels and speaker series to educate the regional and campus community about ways to promote more humane and socially just sport practices.

“Our speakers come to campus and give people a different perspective on sports in relation to homophobia in sports, racism, disabilities and sexuality,” said Rita Libert, director of CSSJ. “We want our message to resonate with students so they can spread the word and make change in the way athletes are treated.”

CSSJ has brought speakers who have informed the campus about topics such as sport politics in the United States and how fitness and healthcare has become commercialized. Additionally, the Center spearheaded the creation of a new option in sport and sport justice under the kinesiology degree at CSUEB.  Through social justice courses and working at the center, students become familiar with how athletes are treated and recruited, and the types of challenges different types of people face in professional sports.