A Team for Every Child

Youth sports provide countless benefits to children, who grow physically, mentally, socially and even spiritually through their involvement in team and individual activities. Yet alarming trends have robbed many children of the ability to participate in youth sports while taking the fun out of practices and games for those who do. Consider the following:

  • Nearly 70% of children drop-out of sports by the age of 13.

  • According to data from the SFIA and Aspen Institute, participation in youth sports is down nearly 8% over the past decade. In addition, only 1 out of 3 children from low-income households participated on a team.​

  • The trend toward specialization has meant fewer children are participating in multiple sports, which has proven to increase burnout and injury, which can negatively impact a child's development. 

  • The cost to participate in youth sports is increasing, creating barriers to entry for middle and low income families. The same report above noted a strong correlation between household income and participation, children from families earning less than $25,000 per year participating in sports at half the rate of those earning $100,000 or more. 

Youth sports have become a big business, with rising costs and pressures taking away opportunities for many of our children in communities across the country. An increasing number of families lack the financial resources to involve their children in quality youth sports programs. At Play Like a Champion, we believe that all children should have the right to play in a safe and fun environment. We're committed to reversing the trends above and making this a reality. 

A Team for Every Child is a national initiative working to provide positive youth sports opportunities for every child across America. Engaging with existing partners and community leaders in areas of need, our goal is to develop sustainable programming that allows all of our children to experience the joy and benefits of youth sports.

How do we do this? We begin by building kinship with current partners and in individual neighborhoods and communities across the country. Then Play Like a Champion conducts research and provides a detailed analysis of the community's needs. Working together, we establish a vision and develop a project management plan to create sustainable programming for local youth. Along the way, Play Like a Champion helps build infrastructure and establish local governance. Finally, we provide training for coaches and parents that sets the culture and establishes a positive, character-driven experience for local children. It's a winning formula based on success stories like the North Lawndale Athletic & Recreation Association.

We need your help to create sustainable youth sports programs while training coaches and parents in communities across America. We call upon those who have had the benefit of a positive youth sports experience to become "Champions" for the most vulnerable children in our society by supporting this outreach in the following ways:
  • Sponsoring coach and parent training for organizations that cannot afford it.
  • Providing scholarships for administrators & community leaders to attend the annual Play Like a Champion Today Sports Leadership Conference at the University of Notre Dame.
  • Spread the word online by sharing this page and using #ATeamforEveryChild to encourage others to get involved. 
  • Consider a donation to Play Like a Champion that supports A Team for Every Child initiatives.
Do you know of a league or community where Play Like a Champion could make a difference? Let us know by emailing us at information@playlikeachampion.org

The Play Like a Champion Today Educational Series also sponsors an annual award that honors the work of our partners who have embraced the mission of A Team for Every Child. These recipients are committed community servants and child advocates. We are privileged to partner with them to provide opportunities for children and provide sport-based character education that enriches youth sports in their communities. Previous recipients include:

​2010: South Bend (IN) Police Athletic League, Captain Darryl Boykins

2011:  Southern California Falcons Youth Football and Cheer Team, Keith and Karen Johnson

2012:  Chicago Boxing Club, Tom Carnevale

​2013:  Jordan Family Sports Foundation, Brooke Overgard (accepting on behalf of JFSF)

2014:  South Bend Breakers, Mike Poole

2015:  Lawndale Wolfpack, Darin and Debra Brown​

            Gateway Locomotives Special Hockey, James Hermann​

2016:  Georgetown Titans Hockey, Willy Meaux

2017:  North Lawndale Eagles Football Program, Coach Charles Rice

            St. Louis Police Athletic League, ​Officers Michael Shaw & James Stagge Accepted for STL PAL

2018:  North Lawndale Kinship Initiative: Vince Guider of Old St. Pat's Church in collaboration with the NLARA

Play Like a Champion made us feel as if we were family when we visited Notre Dame for their annual spring football game. The team was treated as if they were stars on campus. The North Lawndale Eagles Football Program has been around for over 25 years and the team has never been given an opportunity of this magnitude. We are certain that the visit had a very positive impact on our student-athletes as well as the coaching staff. The team will remember the visit forever and for that we are forever thankful. 

- Coach Charles Rice, North Lawndale Eagles Football Program

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Play Like a Champion Today Educational Series

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Email: information@playlikeachampion.org

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