Feb 7, 2024 - News

Promoting diversity in Columbus sporting events

Illustration of basketballs in different shades.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Local officials are investing in plans to combine the region's love for sports with an ongoing commitment to promote racial equity and inclusion.

Why it matters: As Columbus pushes to become a major sports hub, targeted investments can prevent diverse communities being excluded from the economic and cultural gains.

Driving the news: Franklin County Commissioners invested $130,000 yesterday toward a partnership between the county's Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission.

  • In particular, the county wants to support events that promote women in sports and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

State of play: The Commission has turned our city into a favorable neutral site for top-tier sporting events, attracting thousands of fans to the Arena District.

  • Most notably, Columbus hosted the women's Final Four in 2018 and the tournament will return in 2027.
  • More recently was the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, which also featured skaters taking part in a panel on diversity and inclusion at the Lincoln Theatre.
  • Also last month, 16 high school basketball teams traveled from as far away as Toronto to compete in the MLK Showdown in Grove City.

What they're saying: "The Greater Columbus Sports Commission prides itself on hosting and attracting diverse sports events that reflect our community," senior director of business development Celia Anderson tells Axios.

  • "We are thankful to the Franklin County Board of Commissioners for continuing to support those efforts into 2024."

What's next: County funding will support African American Male Wellness Agency programming, along with two upcoming events.

  • The Classic For Columbus in April is a collegiate basketball exhibition featuring players, dancers and bands from HBCUs across the country. Proceeds fund student scholarships.
  • In June, an organization known as Compete Sports Diversity will host its summer conference here. The group complimented the city on its "unwavering commitment to inclusion in sports."
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