Chancellor Fariña Announces Expansion of Public Schools Athletic League, Increasing Number of Girls’ and Small Schools Teams

  • Posted: Wed Sep 02, 2015 Updated: Mon Apr 23, 2018

The PSAL will add hundreds of new teams with the majority as part of the Small Schools Athletic League

NEW YORK - Chancellor Carmen Fariña today announced an expansion of the Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL), with an emphasis on adding new teams at small schools and creating new girls’ teams. Nearly 70 percent of added teams will be in the Small Schools Athletic League (SSAL) and around 70 percent of all new teams will be girls’ teams. Approximately 220 new teams will be added in the 2015-2016 school year, providing athletic opportunities for an additional 3,000 high school students. 

The SSAL, a division within the PSAL for smaller schools with limited athletic offerings, will receive roughly 150 of the new teams during the 2015-16 school year, equaling 2,000 new roster spots. For the fall season, 74 new teams will be added – 49 in SSAL and 49 girls’ teams. Schools are in the process of applying for winter and spring sports teams. Over the next four school years, DOE plans to add nearly 500 new teams and, by the 2019-2020 school year, expects to have full parity between male and female athletic participation. 

“More and more of our students will now experience important team camaraderie and enjoy exciting competition as we expand access to athletics for girls throughout the City and for thousands of students at smaller schools,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “Creating more opportunities to play sports will strengthen school communities with school spirit and give students more chances to strengthen their bodies and their minds. I look forward to seeing more sports added in the coming years.” 

Of the new SSAL teams in the fall, seven will be in the Multiple Pathways League, which has modified academic eligibility standards and is geared to meeting the needs of students who are overage and under-credited, as well as English Language Learners. The Multiple Pathways League will also expand to include new sports such as baseball and soccer. 

This expansion was made in close partnership with the City Council, which demonstrated its commitment to this issue by allocating $1 million for the SSAL this year. This focus on supporting children both inside and outside the classroom will benefit students, who will learn important lessons about teamwork, setting goals, and perseverance. The total PSAL budget was increased by 14 percent – to $32.4 million from $28.4 million – to fund the expansion. 


“The Council applauds the Administration’s response to the Council’s push for a further investment in girls’ sports and the Small Schools Athletic League,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “As we know, playing sports has been positively correlated with higher retention rates in school and lower dropout rates, especially for girls of color. We are excited that we are moving closer to equity in all of our schools and providing tangible opportunities for our youth who oftentimes need it most. It has been a longstanding priority of this Council and we are proud to be partnering with the Chancellor on this crucial initiative.” 

“Sports are a vitally important part of every child’s educational experience,” said City Council Education Committee Chair Daniel Dromm. “By expanding the Public Schools Athletic League, more students of all academic backgrounds will have access to sports teams and therefore a more well-rounded education. I am pleased to have partnered with Chancellor Fariña, NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and my colleagues in the Council in bringing about this much-needed expansion.” 

“Adding top-notch athletics to an increasingly diverse array of students and schools will improve the education of thousands more students,” said Deputy Chancellor Elizabeth Rose. “I am also thrilled to see that more female students will get a chance to enjoy the many benefits of playing high school sports. Our athletic programs bring so much value to the students they serve and we will continue to make the investments we need to ensure we are reaching as many schools as possible.” 

“This is a big win for our kids,” said Eric Goldstein, CEO of the Office of School Support Services, which oversees the PSAL. “By adding more teams in a diverse variety of schools, we are giving more students the opportunity to benefit from our outstanding athletic programs. Playing sports helps kids stay healthy and teaches them valuable lessons about teamwork, sportsmanship, and achievement.” 

“What an exciting day for so many students across the city, who will now be able to participate in the great sports we offer,” said Donald Douglas, Executive Director of the PSAL. “This expansion will make PSAL competition even stronger and I look forward to further growing our sports programs in the years ahead.” 

“Participating in competitive sports is such a rewarding experience for students and it is so important that smaller schools like mine get this opportunity,” said Jorge Luna, boys’ soccer coach at the Morrisania Educational Campus. “I am very excited about the upcoming season and I can’t wait to see our kids out on the field.” 

These additions build upon the 97 percent of general education high school students who have access to a traditional PSAL or SSAL team. With the expansion of the SSAL, newer and smaller schools that have had difficulty growing their athletic programs will now be able to offer more robust interscholastic sports. This is part of an ongoing effort to ensure greater equity through athletic participation and increase the number of students who have access to competitive sports. 

Studies have shown that students who play high school sports have better educational outcomes, including higher grades and standardized test scores. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, playing sports helps adolescents build and maintain strong muscles and bones, and reduces the risk of developing obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. The CDC has also found that physical activity may help students improve their concentration and focus in the classroom. Playing sports can also help relieve stress and reduce anxiety. Overall, athletic competition keeps students active and healthy and furthers a well-rounded education. 

All PSAL and SSAL coaches undergo health and safety training, including certifications in First Aid and CPR. Coaches must be certified in Concussion Management and must additionally take an in-person course on the topic and complete the online “Heads Up” course every two years. Schools also must provide Automated External Defibrillators (AED) and have a staff member on site during competitions who is trained in its use. All swimming coaches must have current lifeguard and Professional Rescuer CPR certifications in addition to regular PSAL requirements. 

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Contact: Chancellor’s Press Office (212) 374-5141 
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