USA Diving Announces New Diversity Programs in Wake of Black Lives Matter Movement

USA Diving has formed a Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Council to address internal “challenges” that the organization has identified regarding the accessibility of diving in the United States.

After identifying and examining the challenges that have perpetuated a lack of accessibility and led to the underrepresentation of people of color that plagues our sport, we have pinpointed immediate action items as well as longer-term initiatives that we are committed to implementing,” USA Diving said in an email sent out on Tuesday.

The new initiatives are in response to the ongoing national conversation and protests sparked by the police killing of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, two weeks ago in Minneapolis. This national movement, under the banner of ‘Black Lives Matter,’ has forced aquatic sports communities around the country to look introspectively at the sports’ own histories of racial disparity.

USA Diving says that it will begin on 3 initiatives immediately. The first is the Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Council that will include staff members, athletes, coaches, and “thought leaders” who will work to address the organization’s diversity issues. That Council, as a priority, will work immediately to address the lack of accessibility of facilities and programs in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas.

USA Diving also says that in the coming weeks, they will announce a “structured financial commitment” that will address the subjects of diversity, equality, and inclusion. USA Diving says that these financial commitments will “dismantle the current barriers to entry in the sport of diving.” They say that they will seek contributions from their partners and the diving community to help make the sport more accessible, with the implication being financial commitments to support those efforts.

The 3rd prong of USA Diving’s new plan involves making resources and training and diversity, equality, and inclusion available to its membership and to create “opportunities” for productive discussions to “educate our community on social justice.”

USA Diving, unlike USA Swimming, does not publish membership demographic statistics. Former University of Tennessee diver Michael Wright became the first black diver to ever win a USA National Diving championship. Wright is currently the head coach of the Tennessee Diving Club and a volunteer assistant with the University of Tennessee.

USA Diving announced the resignation of its CEO Terry Bassett in February after only 4 months on the job.

USA Diving’s Full Program Announcement is Below:

As often happens outrage and sadness lead to self-examination.  We are only at the beginning of this process, but it is already apparent that we must take action to stem the tide of systemic racism and social injustice in the world of sport.  In an attempt to support a community that values diversity, equality and inclusion and to change the narrative we have spent the past several days engaging with members of our community. These critical conversations surround our ability to create an infrastructure within the diving ecosphere that combats institutional racism and promotes access to the sport.  

After identifying and examining the challenges that have perpetuated a lack of accessibility and led to the underrepresentation of people of color that plagues our sport, we have pinpointed immediate action items as well as longer-term initiatives that we are committed to implementing. 

Part of that commitment is to provide better access, representation and more opportunities within diving for everyone. However, it cannot stop there. We need to be better global citizens if we are to break the cycle of institutional racism. 

Here is where we start: 

1.     We have formed a Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Council consisting of staff members, athletes, coaches and thought leaders to assist us in addressing diversity, equality and inclusion considerations and help us identify opportunities to improve.  

To ensure we achieve our goals of creating and maintaining a culture that embraces the unique perspectives and journeys of every person, USA Diving has charged this council with developing long term directives for promoting Diversity and Inclusion.  As its priority, this council is to create a plan that will be shared publicly in order to: 

  1. Address the lack of accessibility of facilities and programs in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas.  
  2. Learn from and partner with the people and organizations who are already creating positive change. 

2.     We will announce a structured financial commitment specifically addressing diversity, equality and inclusion in the coming weeks. 

In order to properly serve underrepresented communities across the country, we must invest in creating sustainable programs and initiatives which will dismantle the current barriers to entry in the sport of diving. We are committed to creating opportunities for generations to come.  

When the time comes, we welcome participation in these efforts and hope that our partners and greater community will consider working alongside us in these endeavors. 

3.     We will make resources and training on Diversity, Equality and Inclusion readily available, create opportunities for productive discussions to educate our community on social justice and work to improve representation and communication within our entire community. 

  1. We have created a list of resources on Social Justice that can be found here:  https://www.teamusa.org/USA-Diving/Diversity-Equality-and-Inclusion 
  2. We will be hosting a series of discussions focusing on Social Justice issues which will be posted on our social media, available on our podcast and website. 
  3. We will work to ensure that we voice representation of the viewpoints of our athletes and members that actively support diversity, equality and inclusion.  

USA Diving promises to use our influence, resources, platform and network to support underrepresented communities. We ask that you hold us accountable, work alongside us and partner with us to help us create a community where individuals from every background are welcome, respected and safe from harassment and bullying. We will work together to build a diverse team of leaders to inspire the next generation of divers.  

If you have ideas or know individuals that we should include.  If you are aware of organizations we should be working with or have a specific idea on how we can propel our initiatives forward, please send your thoughts to Kelly Fox at [email protected]. 

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ACC
1 year ago

A good first step. In the aquatics community we don’t often talk about the history of segregation and denial of aquatic spaces to black Americans. For generations we segregated pools as a matter of policy, and even now pool access is very much determined by the racial breakdown of the community you live in.

It took active effort to keep black people from swimming with whites. It will take active effort to make aquatics racially diverse.

Corn Pop
1 year ago

Almost all non white ppl around the world are poorer than African Americans , b u t there they are , competing internationally in diving.

Blackflag82
Reply to  Corn Pop
1 year ago

Wealth and access aren’t the same thing. While they are often connected in this country, many other countries provide access based on talent (or potential talent for younger athletes) independent of that athlete’s familial wealth…

Corn Pop
Reply to  Blackflag82
1 year ago

Most ppl have a fear of heights too. . However other nations manage to include a variety of ppl in their developmental diving programs. Diving I s a sport f or individualists so I t is just as easily African A Americans not willing t o break ranks with their social group.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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