EDITOR’S NOTE: Today, ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro spoke at The Aspen Institute Project Play Summit 2020 with ESPN analyst & NBA All-Star Vince Carter and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in a conversation moderated by ESPN analyst, ESPN Radio host, and WNBA Los Angeles Sparks player Chiney Ogwumike (see an excerpt in the video above) In this Front Row post, ESPN Vice President, Corporate Citizenship, Kevin Martinez, explains how ESPN is continuing to power youth sport participation.
ESPN believes that all kids should have the same opportunity to play sports and focuses on helping those with the least access. This includes investing in organizations that support those living at or below poverty levels, youth exposed to violence in their community, those with physical or intellectual disabilities, immigrant populations, and other factors leading to difficulties in accessing sports.
Among all the terrible impacts of COVID-19, kids now don’t have the same opportunities to stay active. And if they’re away from sports long enough, they might retire, which could be detrimental to their long-term health and wellbeing.
This is especially troubling for groups who were already at a disadvantage.
Sixty-nine percent of girls did not play team sports on a regular basis, and that was before COVID.
We have to work creatively as an industry to keep kids playing sports, while, of course, keeping safety as a top priority.
We know that Black children have less access to sports than their white peers.
Since we started our Access to Sports and Empowerment through Sports strategy six years ago, ensuring that kids from all backgrounds and abilities can play has always been a priority for us.
Today, we announced that we’ll continue to ensure our social investments are going to those who need it the most, and moving forward, at least 60 percent of all the grants that ESPN will donate in our two youth investment strategies — Access to Sports and Empowerment through Sports — will benefit Black and African American youth, for a total of at least $1 million.
We are looking toward a future where all kids have the ability to play sports, where youth coaches are properly trained, and the infrastructure is in place to ensure kids have a place to play.
Sports shouldn’t be just for those who are the best athletes or come from wealthier homes, but for all kids in our communities who want to play. ESPN is committed to doing our part to ensuring all kids have the ability to play.
Project Play empowers programs such as The Lost Boyz, a youth baseball program in Chicago. Learn more in the video below, courtesy of ABC Localish.