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Davis, California

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Davis Youth Softball Association and civil rights nonprofits settle with the city of Davis over Fair Play Act violations

A settlement between the associate and the city of Davis will provide new opportunities for girls’ youth sports


By MADELEINE YOUNG — city@theaggie.org


On Oct. 27, the Davis Youth Softball Association (DYSA), backed by nonprofit groups Legal Aid at Work, Fair Play for Girls in Sports and the California Women Law Center, came to a settlement with the city of Davis. The settlement addressed ongoing allegations against the city for noncompliance with the Fair Play in Community Sports Act, which was passed nearly 20 years ago, and promised renovations and improvements to softball facilities across the city of Davis that have yet to be implemented.

The city will begin improving facilities and programs to promote fair play, equality and opportunities for girls in sports. The city will additionally manage funding, equipment, practice, coach compensation, publicity, qualified umpires, judges and game schedules, according to the settlement.

DYSA President Jennifer Martinez has voiced her concerns regarding the state of DYSA softball fields with the support of parents, players and nonprofits over the past year.

“We noted that there were some inequities between different sports organizations that are down and we wanted to have equity for girls,” Martinez said. “It’s not girls against boys, it’s equity for the youth in the community.” 

Despite the Fair Play Act being in place for almost two decades, the association, players and parents voiced concerns over the differences between the F Street softball field and the Davis Little League baseball fields. 

“There’s no fences, no bathrooms, there’s no concessions standards, there’s no lights, there’s no place to sit for the girls, but right across the street, the boys have all of those things,” Martinez said. “And then as they grow up, they notice these things and they start asking questions.”

Legal Aid at Work was one of the nonprofits that contributed to the settlement. Elizabeth Kristen, the legal aid director and senior staff attorney of the Gender Equity and LGBT Rights Program for Legal Aid at Work, wrote a letter in Oct. 2020 addressing the violations of the Fair Play in Community Sports Act with support from other organizations.

“A lot of girls don’t have access to sports in their schools, maybe not until they get to high school, and club sports are really expensive and sometimes out of reach,” Kristen said. “And so having access to fair opportunities in community sports is really important.”

In order to assist the association and reach this settlement, Kristen gave a prepared testimony that addressed the violations and put forth specific steps Davis should take to comply with the act. Two years later, a settlement was finally reached on Oct. 27, 2022.  Kristen explained the improvements that the settlement will provide. 

“They’re going to do everything, from things that seem small, like access to drinking water, to bigger improvements like dugout improvements, adding more shade and creating better storage,” Kristen said. “There’ll be a multi-use building, there’ll be some lights which allow them to use the fields more and there’s going to just basically be generally improved facilities and maintenance of those facilities.” 

With these changes, the DYSA hopes to provide better opportunities for girls to play softball. Martinez said that the board, players and parents are all looking forward to these improvements which previously seemed unattainable.

“It’s wonderful for the girls to grow up in a place where, when you see something that’s wrong and not right or not just, […] you speak up and you work hard and you never give up. Then things will happen,” Martinez said. “And I’m really proud of what we’ve done and what the girls in this generation and the future generations will have because of the tenacity of this board.”


Written by: Madeleine Young — city@theaggie.org