If you had the chance to join us for the weekend in St. Petersburg, for the 2023 Compete Sports Diversity Summer Conference hosted by Visit St. Pete/ Clearwater and presented by Valley Forge Sports and Tampa Bay Rays; we couldn’t be more appreciative of you, you all are catalysts of the important change that is coming in sports. If you weren’t able to join us this weekend, please know that you were missed, and we were thinking of you. Below is a fully summarized recap of the weekend.

It’s important that we continually build on this but equally as important for us to take what we learned and shared and implement it in not only in the industry but in our daily lives as well.

Day 1

Sports Organization Round Tables hosted by Joshua Magallanes, SDLT, Education Committee Chair, Compete Sports Diversity.

  • Event Staffing- What are your costs for contractors, how do you negotiate costs for contracting companies to staff your event, how are you approaching those conversations with your host city DMO partner?
  • Shipping or purchasing event products, apparel, on-site event needs.
  • What support have you garnished from cities that are must-have essentials for a successful event has it been funding, sponsorship sourcing to local corporations, introductions to local LGBTQ+ and/or disenfranchised resource groups etc…?

Hosting and Supporting DEI Events Panel- Moderated by John Deffee Panelists: Caleb Peterson, SDLT (Visit St. Pete Clearwater), Rachel Dailey (Valley Forge Sports), Brandon Benson (Memphis Tourism)

  • As a DMO what some of the more important focus areas for an RFP are and what are some of the things RFPs are missing. Summarized Collective Answer: Non-Negotiables, making sure that your RFP includes the required bare minimum needs for your event to be successful, Transparent and Accurate Room Night History, Transparency about being a first-time event/new event, demographics of event attendees.

Silent Supporters vs Vocal Allies- Connor Shane, SDLT, Compete Sports Diversity

  • How can you present yourself in a healthy role but also lay groundwork to inspire others.
    • Understanding where you self-identify and when to be one or another. Your role as an ally is to not only help bring disenfranchised communities to the table but then allowing them to lead the conversation moving forward.
    • Being an ally doesn’t always mean you have to be outspoken; it’s understanding that there are moments you shouldn’t speak, this helps uplift the voice of the community you’ve devoted your allyship to.
    • Identifying someone as an LGBTQ+ individual but do not forget to identify them as a person as well. Being LGBTQ+ is not the WHOLE of who they are and it’s important to treat them as you would others.
    • Allyship can be different between Vocal Allies and Silent Supporters. You do not need to be a vocal ally for all causes. Just be clear about who you are supporting.

Supporting Women in the Sports Industry- Moderated by Sarah Kirchberg, SDLT, MGM Resorts International. Panelists: Christina Mancuso, SDLT (Visit Atlantic City), Luchie Javelosa, SDLT (Tempe Tourism Office), Ariana Tyler, SDLT (Greater Columbus Sports Commission).

  • What things are you doing to help break down barriers for future generations of women to have more access to the Sports Tourism industry? Summarized Collective Answer: We’re using our voices as Women in leadership positions to bring more awareness to the Sports Tourism Industry, making sure that we’re engaging with younger generations of women by participating on panels hosted by college and community partners.
  • What are some of the challenges you’re still facing even though you’re a woman in a leadership role? Summarized Collective Answer: The stigma around that there is someone of higher position that needs to be included in conversations, whether it be copied on an email or focusing attention and engaging more with a male counterpart during a zoom call.
  • How can others help move the needle on the topic of Women in Sports? How can others be better allies in the conversation? Summarized Collective Answer: There’s many ways, one way is to just, listen. Don’t speak, don’t just hear, but listen and be intentional and present when listening. Make room for women at the table and when you do give women the microphone. It’s one thing to be sitting at the table, but more importantly, it’s giving a voice to women at the table

Day 2

Exclusive Interview with The Tampa Bay Rays’ Stephen Thomas: Interviewer- John Deffee, SDLT.

  • What are some of the things the Rays are doing to make sure they’re represented as an inclusive organization? The Tampa Bay Rays are committed to creating an authentic experience for all disenfranchised communities, with the campaign foundation of “Baseball is for All.” The Rays have created a year-round program that includes hanging banners such as the Black Lives Matter flag and a Progressive flag themed “Baseball is for Everyone” Banner in right field.
  • Can you tell us what some of the challenges and successes have been when hosting a pride night? Throughout the last 17 years the Rays have had a pride game celebrating the LGBTQ+ community, some of the successes we’ve had include giving the players the option to support the community by wearing the Pride Logo on their uniforms, but the conversation surrounding the topic of wearing a Pride Cap or having logo placement was built on the basis that they aren’t doing it for any other reason than that it is what is RIGHT.
  • There’s a lot of conversation around organizations talking the talk but not walking the walk. What have the Rays been doing to make sure that they’re walking the walk when it comes to LGBTQ+ inclusion? Throughout the years, the Rays have created a welcoming environment to the LGBTQ+ community but we also want to make sure that we’re authentic in doing so, we’ve been able to accomplish this through activations, partnerships with LGBTQ+ Owned Businesses, and supporting various foundations. Most notably in 2016, following the Pulse Night Club shooting the Rays raised over $300,000 for victims of the tragedy.

Creating Transformational Change- Joshua Magallanes, SDLT.

  • What do we do when we set up time for reflection on dynamic change and cultural change to provide a seat for everyone at the table? Can’t we do more? We really need to move into an abolitionist approach to achieve an “everyone wins” mentality. Freedom is a constant invitation to struggle and fight… but we can persevere, survive, and thrive!!! When we ALL matter!!!
  • Here are a few takeaways and reflection questions to think about:
    • What is at least one action step that you can take to honor the ways in which you lead as an abolitionist in your work?
    • What is at least one action step that you can take to honor and elevate service delivery those you serve and journey with?

Key Note- Speaker: Rogelio Capote on “The Power of Intention.”

  • When creating and building partnerships it’s important to make sure that both parties are aligned in their missions, sharing each other’s voice, and equally allowing both organizations to be represented at the table. Being intentional with your ask and being open to a transparent conversation about what your partnership looks like not only internally but externally.
  • CAN Community Health’s June Pride Month Program- Don’t hate, celebrate and educate.
  • Managing a diverse, inclusive, and equitable brand is NOT a TREND but an enduring RESPONSIBILITY. A DEI Brand can better align with changing sociocultural norms, markets labor pools, it can bridge gaps in storytelling, and address inaccurate representations.
  • When we focus on the individual, we seize attention, build love, inspire dreams, create connection, respect, recognize individuals, and build confidence.

Awards and Honors

2023 Tampa Bay Rays Pride Night Game, June 10th, 2023 4:10 p.m EST

  • Final: Texas Rangers- 8 Tampa Bay Rays- 4