NEW JERSEY – NJSIAA (New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association), the governing body for high school sports in New Jersey, has announced a first-of-its-kind partnership with the NFL. The organization will host a two-day, virtual diversity, bias, and cultural competence workshop for football game officials. The two-day session’s goal is to increase awareness and advocacy for advancing diversity, equality and inclusion.

The workshop will focus on the following:

  • Why diversity matters – Promotes a foundation for understating the various dimensions of diversity, the value in respecting and appreciating the differences in others, and how embracing equitable and inclusive practices creates a greater sense of community, improves culture, and is the key to a competitive advantage.
  • Implicit bias and disruption – Raises self-awareness of the various forms of unconscious biases that affect our thought patterns, decision-making, and the way we see the world. The program will also discuss methods of bias disruption.
  • The art of cultural competence – Provides an exploration of how culture influences behavior, and shares methods for increasing cultural sensitivity – including effective engagement with people with varied cultural background and perspectives.

“Equality and inclusion isn’t an option at NJSIAA, it’s an essential aspect of our mission,” says Colleen Maguire, NJSIAA’s chief operating officer. “Above all, creating an accepting environment for all of our athletes will always be our top priority. We’re excited to partner with a leading organization toward accomplishing essential goals.”

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“As a part of our ongoing commitment to creating a more inclusive community, we are excited to partner with the NJSIAA on a series of workshops to further educate officials on diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Al Riveron, NFL Senior VP of Officiating. “We look forward to having everyone engage in this topic throughout the two-day event and continue towards making sustainable changes in society.”

Scheduled for September 22 and 23, the workshop will be facilitated by Nicole S. Smart, founder and principal of Smart EDI Solutions LLC, a consulting practice that combines data-driven approaches to support organizations in fostering diversity, equality and inclusion.

About the NJSIAA
Established in 1918, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) is a voluntary, non-profit organization comprised of 436 accredited public and non-public high schools. A member of the National Federation of State High School Associations, the NJSIAA conducts tournaments and crowns champions in 33 sports. Championship competition for girls is sponsored in basketball, bowling, cross country, fencing, field hockey, golf, gymnastics, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, outdoor track, winter track, volleyball, and wrestling. Boys’ championships are determined in baseball, basketball, bowling, cross country, fencing, football, golf, ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer, swimming, tennis, outdoor track, winter track, volleyball, and wrestling. 

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