I’ve spent some time thinking about this too, and you’re right that there are no easy answers. I’m white but I have black kids, and they’ve been participating in races and triathlons for a few years now. They are often the only people of color at the triathlons, running is a little more diverse.
Sort of related, but sort of not — In Omaha, a female triathlete who loved the sport quit competing because she saw how exclusive the “club” was, how difficult it was to be able to afford running shoes, a bike, and a place to swim consistently. The barriers to entry for the triathlon scene are high.
But she didn’t just quit. She started her own club for girls and recruited businesses to sponsor it. Any girl between 8 and 14 can participate. The club provides running shoes, a bike and bike riding lessons to those who need them, a place to swim and swimming lessons, and 8 weeks of training for the girls, followed by a triathlon at the end of the summer.
I’ll just tell you — lots of girls of color participate. My daughter participated last year and it was so much fun for her. It’s accessible, it’s free, all you have to do is show up.
I do think that providing this kind of support for children encourages them to pursue lifelong athletics. It’s easier to try something as a child than as an adult.
That was a bit of a sidebar, and this is the longest comment ever, but thank you for mentioning this issue.