Sports figures including Jon Gruden, Larry Fitzgerald partner with DICK'S to increase youth sports access

Photo: Jason DeCrow/AP Images for DICK’S Sporting Goods

Sports figures including Jon Gruden, Larry Fitzgerald partner with DICK'S to increase youth sports access

High School Sports

Sports figures including Jon Gruden, Larry Fitzgerald partner with DICK'S to increase youth sports access

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DICK’S Sporting Goods is teaming up with a group of notable sports figures to help provide youth with better access to athletics.

There’s concern about sports availability based on several factors.

Sixty-three percent of school budgets are stagnant or decreasing, according to a RAND Corporation study cited in the DICK’S press release.

Twenty-four percent of schools don’t offer sports, according to a Women’s Sports Foundation study.

There’s also a notable difference in athletic opportunities at high-poverty schools versus others.

Schools the WSF classifies as “high-poverty” offer a third fewer sports and teams than “low-poverty” schools. These classifications were measured by the percentage of students who were eligible for reduced-price or free lunches.

In an effort to increase the amount of money going toward youth athletics, DICK’S has created a Sports Matter Advisory Board. It consists of sports figures including Arizona Cardinals football player Larry Fitzgerald, Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden, volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings, former NBA player Jalen Rose, golfer Annika Sorenstam and skier Lindsey Vonn.

Additionally, LeBron James’ business partner Maverick Carter is part of the group. DICK’S donated to James’ I PROMISE School in Akron, Ohio.

U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team player Alex Morgan was part of the Sports Matter panel Thursday in which DICK’s announced its plan.

The company is matching up to $1 million in donations made by customers to the DICK’S Foundation from July 14 through Sept. 13.

While participation rates in athletics remains steady, there are fewer sports and teams being offered, according to the WSF.

There was an average of 9.8 male sports and 8.8 female sports offered in the 2009-10 school year. In 2015-16, that was down to 7.6 and 7.5, respectively.

Participation rates rose from 47.1% to 47.9% over those years.

There are fewer sports offered for more participants than before.

The advisory board hopes to create additional opportunities in athletics for youth.

As the WSF study notes, and DICK’S cites in its press release, student-athletes are less likely to have depression and more likely to have higher self-esteem.

“Since 2014, DICK’S and The DICK’S Foundation have helped more than one million young athletes across the country play sports; however, new research we commissioned confirms there is still significant challenges impeding access to sports for many kids,” DICK’S CEO and Chairman Ed Stack said in a statement.

“That is why we announced today our goal to provide access to sports for another one million young athletes over the next five years.”

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Sports figures including Jon Gruden, Larry Fitzgerald partner with DICK'S to increase youth sports access
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