Thanks to following people for their kind letters of support:
“It’s been disheartening to see a recent string of high school sports incidents involving hazing, racism, bullying, and anti-semitism. This bill will enable interested schools to transform the cultures of their athletic teams, while also teaching student athletes social-emotional skills that will benefit them on and off the field. We’ve long thought of athletics as a means of imparting important skills and values to young people. This legislation will help ensure that our school sports programs truly live up to that vision.”
— Senate Majority Leader Cynthia Creem.
“Physical and mental health are incredibly important in all stages of life, but especially for young people as they continue developing. This bill works to bring physical and mental health together in a way that connects with student interest. The goal of this bill is to provide adolescents the opportunity to build and sustain positive, healthy, and emotionally mature relationships through middle and high school athletic programs and team cultures that are bias-free, supportive, and safe.”
— Representative Kay Khan, stating why this legislation is important.
“I had the honor of learning from and knowing Nelson Mandela who saw the power of sport clearly when he famously declared, ‘Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand.’….this amendment (to the MA Anti-Bullying Law) will allow the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to address public middle and high school sports in a way that informs our children’s ability to understand the uncomfortable truth of systemic racism, misogyny, homophobia and other forms of hate that have unfortunately found their way into our sports programs.”
— Richard Lapchick, Ph.D., often called the “racial conscience of sports”, Founder of Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society, Director, University of Central Florida, The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES), President, The Institute for Sport and Social Justice.
“Social and emotional learning has always been a cornerstone of healthy child and youth development, and since the global Coronavirus Pandemic, the need for such programming has only increased. All stakeholders who work with children should be knowledgeable and trained in SEL best practices and utilizing this body of knowledge with athletic teams is only common sense.”
— Elizabeth Englander, Ph.D., Executive Director, Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center, Founding Member, Social & Emotional Research Consortium, Bridgewater State University.
“I write this letter in support of an Act to Remodel Public School Athletics through Social Emotional Learning (S.247/H.516)
Far too often young people experience abuse at the hands of their athletic coaches. Sometimes it might be verbal abuse and other times it can escalate to physical or sexual abuse that leaves a life-long impact. As a youth, I experience such abuse myself and I saw it happening again as a parent when my kids played youth sports. It is time to stop this cycle!
Beyond stopping bad things, this legislation will help more young people grow into thriving and successful adults. It’s been my experience of managing people and teams that social and emotional intelligence is a huge factor in how well someone can do their job. Any education that has young people learning these skills is a plus for our communities.”
— Joe Kriesberg, Boston, MA, Former President of the Mass Assoc. of Community Development Corporations.
“It’s not sports per se that builds vital character traits, including appreciation for others, the capacity to work in teams and persistence. But sports when guided by thoughtful social and emotional learning curriculum can help build these vital capacities. These curricula can also reduce all sorts of harmful behaviors and biases among both coaches and children. I support An Act to Remodel Public School Athletics through Social Emotional Learning (S.247/HD.686).”
— Richard Weissbourd, Ed.D.
Senior Lecturer and Faculty Director, Making Caring Common, Harvard Graduate School of Education.
“I am writing to support MA Senate Docket # 337 and MA House Docket # 686, An Act to Remodel Public School Athletics through Social Emotional Learning.
Unfortunately in the past few years we have seen multiple examples of bullying and disrespectful, even hateful behavior during school athletics in Massachusetts. It is time to implement primary prevention so that all our athletes understand the importance of safe, supportive bias-free team cultures.
As a pediatrician with 40 years of experience and as former chair of the Mass Chapter AAP Child Mental Health Task Force, I am writing to express my strong support for passage of this bill.”
— Dr. Yognam, retired Chair of the Massachusetts American Academy of Pediatrics Child Mental Health Task Force and past Chair of the National American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health.
“There are few better opportunities for children to grow emotionally and socially than through sports. Each season and every sport offer young people the opportunity to develop motor skills, emotional regulation, planning, partnerships, mastery, and resilience and to experience diversity, disappointment, success and belonging. The adults that coach our vulnerable young people need to understand that these skills are critical to success in life. Many need to be taught how to facilitate this aspect of the game.
‘An Act to Remodel Public School Athletics through Social Emotional Learning’ brings youth sports to a new level at a time when our young people need this lift.”
— Nicholas Covino, President, William James College, Training students in careers in mental health, behavior health and organizational leadership, Newton MA.
“This amendment will encourage school districts to ensure that their sports programs optimize the social and emotional skills of students by encouraging coaches to align with best practices for students well being. Research has taught us that attending to students’ social and emotional needs in sports as in every other area school achievement helps them be better in their sports. Games are played with head, heart, and body. A discouraged, dejected, derided, highly anxious student athlete cannot perform to his or her potential.”
— Maurice Elias, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Director, Rutgers Social Emotional/Character Development Lab, Co-Director, Academy for SEL in Schools.
“I believe that this proposed Act is aligned with an extraordinary body of empirical research. This proposed Act will promote students physical as well as mental health.”
— Jonathan Cohen, PhD. President Emeritus, National School Climate Center: Educating Minds and Hearts Because the Three Rs’s Are Not Enough, Are Not Enough, Adjunct Professor in Psychology and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University in the City of New York.
“For 25 years the Urban Assembly has stood for innovation within public education and our commitment to experiences that enhance social emotional development of our youth remains undiminished. Sports teams are no exception. As athletes move up the competitive ladder, it is how they handle the big moments and how they come together as teammates during adversity that play the largest role in outcomes. This is the essence of social-emotional competence. For these reasons, I support this amendment to c. 71 as a positive and productive step forward in helping youth toward greater success in their sports as well as toward a healthier adolescence and adulthood.”
— David Adams, CEO, The Urban Assembly, New York City.
“As a nonprofit dedicated to helping children thrive emotionally, socially, and academically through research-based strategies such as high quality social emotional learning instruction, we commend your proposal to support integrating such strategies and instruction in public school athletics… Additionally, social emotional learning promotes a positive school climate and thus, integrating the development of these skills and strategies in students’ athletics will further enhance such efforts and provide students with more safe and positive environments in and out of school.”
— The Committee for Children, since 1979, a global non-profit that champions the safety and well-being of children through social emotional learning.