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UMKC symposium tackles the intersection of race and sports

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Brandon Parigo
The most common ethnicity among college basketball coaches is white, which translates to 68% of all college basketball coaches. Meanwhile, 13.1% are Hispanic or Latino and 9.5% are Black or African American.

The UMKC School of Law and Athletics Department are co-sponsoring The Arc of Race in Professional & Collegiate Sports, a two-day virtual symposium featuring national and local experts.

Here are two words destined to spark lots of conversation: “race” and “sports.” A two-day virtual symposium Friday and Saturday sponsored by the UMKC School of Law and Athletics focuses on a series of issues connected to those words.

Among them, the hiring of coaches of color, lack of representation in the medical industry and the connection between name-image-and likeness deals and race.

Dr. Margaret Gibson, UMKC's head team physician, will talk about the intersection of race and gender and how it affects the mental health of professional collegiate athletes.

"I think having diversity in the coaches and the staff and the health care professionals really helps students feel more willing to share," Gibson said. "Someone with similar cultural backgrounds may have a better understanding of where they're coming from to understand some of the stressors and things that can cause a lot of depression and anxiety on these college athletes."

Diversifying staff is only part of the problem. Dr. Bridgette Jones, professor of pediatrics at UMKC and physician at Children’s Mercy Hospital, said a lack of representation has a direct impact on patients.

"It's important to have someone that can understand, you know, your life from a holistic perspective," Jones said. "So, you know, not just being able to order or interpret a medical test, but being able to understand some of those social and psychosocial and environmental factors that people experience from marginalized backgrounds."

The UMKC School of Law presents "The Arc of Race in Professional & Collegiate Sports" from 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Saturday, Sept.9, and 8:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 10 as a continuing education webcast. To register, go to sportslawsymposium.org

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9 a.m., my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. My email is steve@kcur.org.
Reginald David is an assistant producer with Up To Date. You can reach him at reginalddavid@kcur.org.
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