Why Leveling All Playing Fields Matters
Last month, Buzzer’s Strive Initiative was honored and proud to support the successful launch of the Black Star Initiative (BSI) in partnership with For Soccer Ventures (FSV) and Detroit City Football Club (DCFC) in Detroit, Michigan. BSI, in their own words, “helps accelerate the growth of soccer in the Black American community at the grassroots level, on and off the field.”
For us, this was a big deal. To understand why it was a big deal, you need to know the history of how we built Strive.
Buzzer was founded in April 2020, which marked the beginning of a global health crisis and eventual racial reckoning within the United States. Although we were founded during these unprecedented and challenging times, we found a greater purpose in building the company and culture in a thoughtful and intentional way. At the time, this manifested in looking to hire those that were laid off during the pandemic as our first employees, but when we realized we couldn’t hire everyone, we formed Strive. Strive’s first product blossomed into a 500+ student mentorship program, where students of color were matched with industry professionals from the sports, media, entertainment and technology industries. Yet, we weren’t done. Strive quickly evolved from not only the initial mentorship program, but we expanded it to become a core tenant of Buzzer with the goal of leveling the playing field and creating equitable social and economic outcomes for communities of color.
So why was our support of Black Star Initiative’s launch in Detroit last month a big deal? It was the first time we used the power of Strive as a tool for supporting a cause in sport that directly levels the playing field.
The concept of an uneven playing field is no more apparent in sport than in youth soccer in America. Despite inherently being one of the most accessible sports to play, popular and representative across all races and socio-economic backgrounds in other parts of the world, professional soccer in America is largely a reflection of one demographic. A recent study showed that across Major League Soccer coaches, owners and executives, the league is 88% white. In the National Women’s Soccer League, the same study resulted in a 99% white majority. This study is largely symbolic of competitive soccer across all ages, across America. So, as we start to expand Strive’s impact beyond a mentorship program, and look to our world of Sport as a natural area to make a difference, it’s hard to look past soccer in America.
Luckily, organizations like BSI, FSV, and Detroit City FC are already working to change the makeup of soccer in America, and that’s where Strive can support these already impactful change makers. FSV has been at the forefront of working to diversify youth soccer in America for years, primarily in Latinx communities. Their new initiative, BSI, targets the grassroots acceleration of the beautiful game in Black American communities. When we heard BSI’s launch was going to be in Detroit with (our favorite USL team) Detroit City FC, we knew Strive would be the perfect supporting partner.
So what happened?
The launch event was hosted by community-inspired USL team Detroit City FC (a beacon of hope and success story in their own right) and included coaching and youth development clinics, a showcase for elite talent to be scouted by professional soccer teams, local college coaches and Major League Soccer (MLS) Next Academies and even an expo to promote Black-owned businesses in Detroit. Simply put, it was a chance for Black youth from Detroit to show scouts their soccer skills, and boy did they!
When you have a moment, please watch a two-minute video below about the BSI launch, which includes a proud parent who says, “you can’t go through this experience and not feel like, ‘I’m valuable. I’m part of the game.”
Improved access for the Black community to the game of soccer, education, and economic empowerment is in the true spirit and fabric of the Strive Initiative. Thank you, FSV and DCFC for allowing us to provide a small, yet intentional, support to launch BSI. Representation matters and we are excited to partner together to increase access and build sustainable impact in Detroit and nationwide through the sport of soccer.
The Strive Initiative is Buzzer’s intentional and impactful commitment to utilize our unifying platform to level the playing field and create equitable social and economic outcomes for communities of color. In addition to our mentorship program, Buzzer has dedicated resources from our company's equity, net sales and invited consumer participation to drive positive change and outcomes in our society.
Buzzer is about building community. We use data to identify moments to bring people together - live. The magic of experiencing a moment with a community of fans transcends to experiencing wins and growth within a community at home. This community also includes the individuals who are playing on the field or court and the people who are leading the business operations in those moments.
This is Buzzer’s why. As we continue to use Strive as the vehicle to explore additional ways for our company to leverage our product, teammates, users, investors and partners to positively impact our society, we will continue to ask ourselves, “why not?” in order to strengthen “our why.”
With gratitude & appreciation,
Dexter Mason, Director of the Strive Initiative
Noah Stack, Director of Design