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23 Mar 2021 | 8:08

Sporting Equals has called for the acronym ‘BAME’ to be retired, and reiterated the importance of language in engaging with communities and reducing inequalities. 

The charity, which aims to promote ethnic diversity across sport and physical activity, conducted a survey on terminology used in the sector last year, which led to a ‘Terminology Resource’ being published in February. 

It revealed there is a “growing concern and appetite for change when looking at terminology and language, surrounding how we describe the communities impacted by racial discrimination”.


In particular it revealed that different communities preferred a more specific definition than the widely-used term BAME, which stands for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic. The resource suggests that acronyms are avoided and more specific terms used, for example referring to ‘South Asian’ or ‘Chinese’ communities. 

The survey saw Sporting Equals consult with members of over 200 organisations, which represent more than 20,000 members and almost 150,000 service users. 

Sporting Equals CEO Arun Kang, speaking ahead of this week’s ‘Race Equality: State of the Sector’ online summit which was attended by more than 500 people, said: “Language is the chief way we communicate as a society.

Arun Kang

“If there is a laziness and apathy even within how we describe our communities how can we effectively seek to reduce inequalities, not just in sport but across wider sectors also? 

“We need to retire BAME as a society and Sporting Equals will be leading the way to call for change not just in sport but across wider sectors.” 

Sporting Equals is encouraging supportive organisations to use the hashtag #EndBAME on social media.


Recent Government advice underscores the charity’s call, with Sport England CEO Tim Hollingsworth revealing the funding body is committed to a review of the Code for Sports Governance, alongside UK Sport. 

“The sport and physical sector, in particular, has had to shine a mirror up to itself and what we've seen has not been particularly flattering,” he told the online summit. 

“Sport and physical activity has too often continued to feel the ugly force of racism, whether it be within sporting organisations, stadiums or on social media, and there have also been occasions where our leaders in the sector have let us down.


“We’ve since set out a number of key commitments and changes, including a new target of doubling the proportion of our staff from an ethnically diverse background over the next five years, and have appointed our first director of equality, diversity and inclusion.” 

Read his full speech here. Others speakers included world number one Para-badminton champion Rachel Choong, cricket commentator and former World Cup winner Isa Guha, England netballer Ama Agbeze and Muslimah Sports Association founder and chair Yashmin Harun BEM. 

Agbeze is also part of the Sports Monitoring Advisory Panel launched by Sporting Equals last month to hold to account publicly-funded sporting organisations over their Black Lives Matter-inspired pledges. 

The panel - which also features QPR's Chris Ramsey, former England cricketer Devon Malcolm and 2014 Women's Rugby World Cup winner Maggie Alphonsi - is also tasked with identifying and profiling best practice of publicly funded sport and physical activity organisations. 

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