Easy to say. Hard to do. But it can be done.
Dick's Sporting Goods has turned the erosion of youth sports programs into a cause that extends beyond mere cheerleading and fundraising. It has produced TV ads, created a website, signed up celebrities and collaborated on a movie that touts the benefit of sports in the development of young lives.
The Sports Matter website features a short video showing student athletes, boys and girls, in a wide range of sports, with "Did You Know" student athlete factoids:
• They are four times more likely to attend college;
• They show up on time at school more and are absent less;
• They are better at managing emotions, resolving conflicts and resisting peer pressure.
The video also includes grim financial facts, such as 27 percent of public high schools will not have sports teams by 2020 and "pay-to-play" school policies may make it harder for low-income athletes who aren't star athletes to get on the field or court.
There is a shorter version of the video that runs as a TV ad. It follows an earlier commercial that shows the frenetic activity that goes on between snaps in a high school football game.
Another video features a coach and his basketball team. There are shots of the team playing basketball, which come after scenes where they serve meals at a rescue shelter, coach a little league basketball team and learn about integrity from their coach.
An especially inspiring video centers on a young girl from a lower-income family who juggles a complicated home life, a fast-food restaurant job and trying out for her school's lacrosse team. She makes the team and her play becomes a source of pride and self-esteem. It's worth noting females who play sports are two times more likely to graduate from high school than their peers.
Skeptics could say this is just clever advertising to promote more sales of sporting goods. Yes, there is a clear connection between playing sports and buying sports gear. But Dick's has chosen a message with a deeper groove. It is showing the face and a slice of life of the student athletes who are impacted by the scary financial statistics.
Dick's is doing more than turning a negative into a positive. They are helping us understand why sports are a positive in the lives of many young people and inspiring us to help out.