An in-depth article in Forbes looks at how ESPN is putting its weight behind programs to boost sports and play in under-resourced places, and calls out LISC’s innovative RePlay partnership with ESPN and Under Armour. Since the collaboration began, we’ve helped 12 community organizations and schools revitalize play spaces and other facilities that promote physical and emotional wellbeing for hundreds of young people in Baltimore neighborhoods with high rates of poverty.
The excerpt below is from:
What ESPN Has To Do With Improving Health
By Bruce Y. Lee, Forbes
If you are wondering what ESPN stands for, it's not "extrasensory perception and noshing." Literally, ESPN stands for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network. But philosophically, based on their 2018 Corporate Citizenship Report, one of the things that ESPN is standing for is "Using the power of sports to create social change."
ESPN has evolved substantially since its founding in 1979 when its early broadcasts featured sportscasters wearing jackets with enormous lapels. Since then many of the lapels have shrunk but ESPN's reach and range of activities have grown. ESPN now includes multiple television channels, a radio network, podcasts, digital content, a magazine, and ESPN+, an on-demand platform.
This puts ESPN in a unique position to help sports create social change. ESPN is involved in a number of such areas, ranging from supporting the V Foundation for Cancer Research to participating in campaigns to reduce food waste to tackling one of the biggest health problems in the U.S. today: declining physical activity, especially among kids.
A major contributor to this last problem has been decreasing sports participation among youth. As detailed by the Aspen Institute’s 2018 State of Play report, there's been a drop in the percentage of youth who play regularly play team sports from 41.5% in 2011 to 37% in 2017. The numbers are even worse for kids from lower-income households: in 2017, only 34% of kids from households with annual incomes of less than $25,000 played a team sport for at least a day. That is just one day in the entire year. These numbers don't bode well for the future as lower physical activity can significantly raise the risk of obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and a number of other health problems. Our computer modeling study published in Health Affairs showed that lack of physical activity among children is a multi-multi-billion dollar problem with costs arising from increased health care needs and lost productivity. As former New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra once said, "The future ain't what it used to be."
Finding ways to improve sports participation among youth is well-aligned with ESPN's core business. After all, people are probably more likely watch or watch commentary about a sport that they themselves have played. That's probably why Ga-ga ball (which has nothing to do with Lady Gaga), cheese rolling, and underwater hockey are not getting much airtime. Moreover, ESPN has first-hand knowledge of what is needed to increase sports participation and the many benefits that such participation may have. Kevin Martinez, Vice President, ESPN Corporate Citizenship, said in the 2018 Corporate Citizenship Report that "We believe that sports plays an enormous role in helping youth and adults reach their fullest human potential both on and off the field."