Kicking Off Sports Matter -- Saving Youth Sports Teams Dollar for Dollar, Team by Team

Sports matter. Youth sports are what is right with America, the world, and humanity.

Sports matter. Youth sports are what is right with America, the world, and humanity. I’m serious. And every kid in every corner of this country should have the chance to experience youth sports. Anything short of that is unacceptable.

What activity besides youth sports, when properly administered, simultaneously summons pure joy and also challenges us to our cores; demands our individual talent and demonstrates the beauty of sacrifice for the team; brings out our competitive instincts against our adversaries and ends with a handshake; attracts kids from every group imaginable and builds bridges across ethnic/racial/class divisions; and does all of that on a truly level playing field where everyone is subject to the same rules?

Sure, youth sports is also a microcosm of the pains of childhood. By definition we can’t all be all-stars, make varsity, or play in college. We look at those kids who seem to effortlessly pick up new skills and wonder why we can’t do the same. We struggle with coaches as we develop into independent, fully formed adults. But that’s the good stuff - the drama of figuring out who we are, fighting to learn something new, coming to the support of a teammate having a tough time, learning to experience victory and defeat with equal grace. What would our individual, communal, and national lives be without those ups and downs?

Youth sports has been proven to increase academic performance; improve kids’ ability to manage emotions, resolve conflict, and resist peer pressure; reduce absenteeism; and provide mentors that reduce drug and alcohol abuse. Cutting across these and other benefits is the particular value youth sports serves for girls and kids from lower-income families. This is why so many women business leaders played sports and why 91 percent of Americans recognize sports are important to their children’s development.

If you agree with me, you’ll also share my anger that youth sports teams are disappearing and new ones can’t get off the ground. An estimated $3.5 billion was cut from school sports budgets during the 2009-2011 school years. More than a quarter of schools won’t even have sports programs by 2020. The families of 60 percent of kids who play sports will have to pick up some or all of the tab, and for many that means choosing between rent and sports.

It’s high time we turn this around, together. The DICK'S Sporting Goods Foundation has launched Sports Matter to jolt us into collective action so we can save youth sports - dollar for dollar and team by team. Donations on a new Kickstarter-inspired youth sports crowdfunding platform will garner $2 million in matching funds for teams as diverse as America itself. And awesome creative spots will profile Daniel and BD, real young athletes who show how sports matter.

But to realize this ambition, we need you to take two simple actions:

  • If you know a team, school, nonprofit, youth group, or organization facing financial challenges, encourage them to apply by March 21.
  • Make a donation to help the teams who need it most so when crowdfunding opens on April 17, we can get every team across the all-or-nothing donation threshold.
  • \n

This is what the GOOD team is all about. Let’s do this.

AFP News Agency / Twitter

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