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Don't Just Save Youth Sports, Transform Them

This week, a coalition of more than 100 youth sports organizations signed a drafted letter intended for senate leadership that proposes $8.5 billion in relief funding to youth sports organizations. You can read a summary of the proposal as reported by the Aspen Institute's Project Play here, which includes a link to the proposed letter. The letter below is from Dr. Clark Power, Founder and Executive Director of the Play Like a Champion Today Educational Series, who notes concerns with the proposed funding based on where relief funds would be appropriated.

The Covid-19 crisis has already had a devastating effect on youth sports organizations, with no end in sight. Without revenue, many programs serving our children will be forced to disband. Recently, a Coalition of more than 100 youth sports organizations formed to request the extension of the CARES Act to include a recovery fund for the youth sport sector. As the Executive Director of the Play Like a Champion Today Educational Series, a Youth Sports Education and Consulting organization, I share the Coalition’s concern that youth sports receive the support they need and deserve. On the other hand, I fear that the Coalition’s proposal as it now stands may preserve an unjust “pay-to-play” system.

In a letter to senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the group notes the health and academic benefits that youth sports provide for those fortunate enough to participate. The letter laudably notes, “Priority consideration in the disbursement of [requested] funds will be given to programs serving under-served communities such as girls, youth with disabilities and at-risk youth.” Unfortunately, the letter focuses on “stabilizing” existing youth sport organizing rather than addressing the dire need for new youth sport organizations in under-served communities.

Why should we prop up the existing system, which is failing to meet the needs of children in low income neighborhoods, as Aspen Institute’s Project Play recently reported? Why should we ask for money to expedite a return to normalcy when that normalcy has contributed to many children being left on the sideline without an opportunity to participate?

Play Like a Champion is committed to working with youth sport organizations to end the “pay-to-play” tyranny in American youth sports and to replace it with a system that serves all children regardless of their family’s income or perceived athletic ability. Youth sports play an irreplaceable role in fostering child welfare and development. Let’s fund a new and just normal for American youth sports.

F. Clark Power, Ed.D.

Founder & Executive Director

Play Like a Champion Today Educational Series

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