As we said when we first published our Good Men Project Sports Youth Sports Primer, a collection of our best advice and writings on the subject of youth sports focused on parents, “Youth sports touches virtually every parent. And it doesn’t take much involvement in youth sports, before you realize that it raises incredibly complex issues of parenting, interpersonal relationships, health, exercise and fitness, socialization, education, societal tensions about how much to push your children, over-scheduling of our youth, and coaching and mentoring.”
The same can – and should – be said about the reach of youth sports for the kids, of course. But with decreasing or stagnating school budgets and a nationwide increase in community-based fees for sports leagues, there is an increasing number of families whose children do not have access to youth sports, because they cannot afford it.
For all its complexity for parents, youth sports is very much worth investing in, because it is chock-full of benefits for kids – from physical fitness, to teamwork, to leadership skills, to learning how to cope with difficult losses and what it takes to win. As Oakland Raiders Head Coach, Jon Gruden, explained, even though he was never close to being a professional athlete, youth sports played a huge role in his life:
“I wasn’t an NBA player or an NFL player, I wasn’t even a good player. I didn’t get a scholarship. But I learned teamwork, I learned sportsmanship, I learned mental toughness. I got physically tougher because I got beat up on the field a lot. I learned a lot about accountability. I didn’t learn those things in economics or in algebra. Being on a team is a really important part of growing up.”
US Women’s National Team striker and two-time World Cup winner and Olympic gold medalist, Alex Morgan, echoes Gruden’s words: “Sports are huge in learning life lessons and gaining confidence, especially for young girls. Sports give so much that you can’t get elsewhere in school or social settings.”
That is why we at Good Men Project Sports are so excited by an initiative that was recently announced by DICK’S Sporting Goods.
DICK’S calls on customers and industry partners to join in supporting youth sports and will match up to $1 million in customer donations to The DICK’S Foundation.
On July 19, 2019, DICK’S Sporting Goods and The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation announced at its Sports Matter panel event – moderated by Gruden along with Advisory Board Members Larry Fitzgerald and Jalen Rose as well as U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team star Alex Morgan, DICK’S Chairman & CEO Ed Stack, Women’s Sports Foundation Senior Director of Research and Programs Dr. Marjorie Snyder and Harlem Lacrosse Alumni Jordany Baltazar – a pledge to provide access to sports for one million youth athletes over the next five years.
As part of this effort, DICK’S also announced it will match up to $1 million in donations made by customers to The DICK’S Foundation at DICK’S store checkouts or at SportsMatter.org from July 14 through September 13, 2019:
“Since 2014, DICK’S and The DICK’S Foundation have helped more than one million young athletes across the country play sports; however, new research we commissioned confirms there is still significant challenges impeding access to sports for many kids”, said Stack. “That is why we announced today our goal to provide access to sports for another one million young athletes over the next five years.”
As part of the initiative, DICK’S Foundation convened the first-ever Sports Matter Advisory Board, featuring Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden, skiing gold medalist Lindsey Vonn, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, ESPN sports analyst Jalen Rose, beach volleyball gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings, among others. Each member of the Advisory Board is personally committed to addressing the major issues facing youth sports today and to provide additional opportunities to young athletes in their respective sport or local community.
This year alone, DICK’S and its Foundation have provided over $20 million in grants and sponsorships to support deserving schools and organizations, including $1 million to help build a new gym for students at LeBron James’ I PROMISE School in Akron, Ohio; $265,000 to the Beyond Sports Foundation for its Sport for Reduced Inequalities Collective Impact Award; and over $780,000 to Girls on the Run to expand their mission to inspire and encourage young girls to be healthy and confident.
At Good Men Project Sports, we take the time to highlight the special moments from the world of sports – both on and off the field – that show The Heart of Sports and to shine a light on athletes who are Doing It Right.
In helping more kids to access local youth sports, DICK’S is certainly doing it right.
Photo Credit: Associated Press