Chris Busey, Ph.D.
CEO & Lead Consultant
OUR CEO's BACKSTORY
There are a lot of cliches regarding sports and unity but having grown up playing sports at a competitive level, I truly believe that the playing field should be a place where differences do not factor into performance. However, not all youth sports are equitable. For example, while I have always loved soccer, an opportunity to play in my youth was unavailable as there were no clubs near my lower-income neighborhood and costs were exorbitant, even at the time. While this remains a commonplace issue, various structural inequities, and lack of access pose even more pressing concerns. Youth sports have grown increasingly more corporate, college recruitment in numerous sports is now geared towards participation in largely unaffordable travel sports, and intercollegiate athletic programs have experienced changes that impact their ability to address inclusivity in an authentic, sustainable manner leaving recruitment and hiring to a case-by-case basis. We know that this dynamic unfortunately creates an un-diverse pipeline into coaching and executive positions.
As a long-time club, high school, and middle school soccer coach, and professor at a major SEC university, I have witnessed this firsthand. I have also seen it as a parent where my daughters are often one of few Brown girls who participate in travel club soccer. Sometimes, because of a lack of investment in youth soccer for girls, they are forced to play on an all-boys team which puts them at a psychosocial disadvantage for scouting and recruitment. As a professor, I mentor and teach athletes who receive a disparity in services due to their participation in revenue or non-revenue producing sports. Depending upon their sport, there are times where Black and Brown student-athletes continue to be severely underrepresented on their athletic teams in addition to experiencing an entire playing career where they are never coached by someone who looks like them.
Unfortunately, these experiences are all too common across the United States, and as reports have shown, in places across the globe too. My goal in creating Level Field Sports, LLC is to leverage my expertise as a university professor with a research and teaching background in equity, inclusivity, and diversity, and meld it with my coaching expertise and athletic background. I believe that to move forward with a commitment to equity and diversity in sports requires a fundamental examination of the current playing field. Certain sports present significantly more barriers of entry than others because of their proximity to high-income residential areas and enrollment fees, but we are seeing this become more of the case across sports with an emphasis on travel leagues, unreasonable costs associated with travel, and access to private training. Intercollegiate athletic programs have responded by exacerbating these issues.
With Level Field Sports, LLC. we want to find a way to make sure that as sport organizations and programs try to keep up with increasing demands necessary to stay competitive, that they also maintain an authentic commitment to diversity, inclusivity, access, and inclusion at all levels. This starts with prioritizing a child’s first kick all the way to hiring process for coaches and executives. Where pipelines can be repaired and transformed, we aim to do so. But where new pipelines can be built, we want to lay the blueprint and pursue those avenues too.
We hope that you consider Level Field Sports in dreaming of a more inclusive, accessible, athletic future for our communities!
Chris Busey, Ph.D.
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