The Struggle of Sports in Prisons

We as human beings feel the need for physical activities. Unfortunately, not every single one of us has the opportunity or ability to do what we love due to the circumstances.

Soccer is the world’s #1 most popular sport. That means that most of countries around the world play soccer. Soccer is part of their lives, it’s the biggest thing in the world’s culture. This game brings all of us together in harmony, and is loved in any given situation.

Recently the situation in the United States with the attacks on undocumented people and the anti-immigrant movement have reduced the opportunities for us in prison to organize soccer tournaments. We have been discriminated against because the vast majority of the people who play soccer are immigrants.

There are people in prison that don’t know how to play any other sport, only soccer. They also need some recreation. Every single sport is played here at SCI Greene except soccer. I arrived at SCI Greene in June of 2005. Ever since I have tried to do something about it. I have talked to lots of staff members in charge of activities and the only thing I got so far from them is false promises. Every time we get close to an agreement there’s a new excuse. Well they have given lots of excuses.

We have two groups that organize sports here. One group is called A.C.E.. Prisoners are in charge of this group. I requested A.C.E. to get a soccer tournament done for us... They failed to do it because some of the staff members are opposed to that. I requested an explanation and was told by staff members that the other group that also organizes sports would do it. They are called the Activities Department. Staff members are in charge of this group. They also denied us the soccer tournament. I requested another explanation. The answer was that they were short on staff which is a big lie.

Most of the prisoners felt kind of defeated. But I felt that it was not over yet. So I decided to do something that I hadn’t done yet. I talked to a lot of people personally and I told them to write to the administration. Most of the “requests” from people were ignored. Now they have ignored the requests, I filed a complaint to the Activities Department based on discrimination. Now they have to give me a proper explanation.

I was told that they will consider a Soccer Fundamentals and that the problem was that they were short on staff members, but they will work on something like Soccer Fundamentals which is not a tournament, more like a training class where we can teach people how to play. Hopefully people here support us and will not allow this to fail. We will probably get a better outcome for all the prisoners here. It’s been almost six years since we started pushing this issue and every time we get close to this goal there is always a new excuse. Hopefully this time it will be done.

Anyone is welcome to support us in this struggle.

Cesar Polito CF7444
SCI Greene
175 Progress Drive
Waynesburg, PA 15370

Originally published in Prison Action News.