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Volume 26 No. 231
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Trump Administration To Announce New Youth Sports Strategy

The Trump administration today will announce a national youth sports strategy that will reach beyond in-school physical education and into community-based programs, funded by a legacy endowment with a goal of raising $100M to provide grants intended to drive increased participation. Developed by the Department of Health & Human Services and the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition, the strategy largely will mirror a draft report issued in June, which echoed many of the recommendations of those who previously studied participation declines, including the Aspen Institute’s Project Play. Among the focus areas: Recruiting and training of coaches and volunteers, creation of safe places to play, provision of quality equipment and strategies to increase participation among girls. It also sets up a funding mechanism for those recommendations, the National Endowment for Youth Sports, which will be managed by the non-profit National Fitness Foundation. The NEYS will award grants in support of the strategy, targeting increased participation among youths in underserved U.S. communities and by girls, along with expanding sports opportunities for children with disabilities. The NFF also will lobby for similarly structured endowments set up in all 50 states. “The policy is a pretty big, bold and sweeping change from what the government has historically done,” said NFF Exec Dir Clay Walker. “It’s moving beyond a ceremonial role or ambassador role into the creation of a long-term legacy fund that is going to support youth sports for all, forever."

TEAMS, ORGANIZATIONS SUPPORT EFFORT: Among the first to sign on in support of the endowment is NBC Sports Group’s Sports Engine, a leading software provider for youth sports organizations, which will offer a Premier League Fan Fest trip and other prizes in a sweepstakes to raise funds for the NEYS. The Chargers also will announce their support of the NEYS today. Other founding supporters of the national youth sports strategy and the endowment include the NHL, MiLB, UFC, Monumental Sports & Entertainment, AAU, Sports & Fitness Industry Association and Boston Scientific. With an annual budget of just $1.2M, the President’s Council serves largely as a communication vehicle, known best for its promotion of a school-based physical fitness test launched by the Eisenhower administration. Since '13, that test has evolved into a broader health assessment that places less emphasis on athletic performance. “That program we all grew up with still exists,” Walker said. “However, that’s not where most kids are engaging with physical fitness. They’re engaging out of school. That’s a societal change. ... This is a policy shift that says we’ll meet kids where they are.”

MORE MARKETING ASSETS NEEDED: Promoting the program in a presentation to the SFIA in DC today, Walker said he will emphasize the role that leading brands can play in the promotion of the endowment, stressing that he needs their marketing assets more than their financial contributions. He pointed to a fundraiser that the NHL and NBC will co-host next year and a sweepstakes they will roll out as examples of the way leagues, teams and networks can support the endowment, generating resources in ways that were beyond the capacity of the school-based programs of the President’s Council. “If you want to engage a 10-year-old in Green Bay, would you rather have the delivery mechanism be the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers or the local PE teacher?” Walker said. “We love the PE teachers, believe me. But the Green Bay Packers are going to have more impact.”