Dick’s Sporting Goods is on a mission to get kids moving. On Tuesday, the Pittsburgh-based retailer hosted a thought leadership panel in New York and invited top athletes, actors, writers and journalists to weigh in on the topic of youth athletics, and how to motivate young people to be active and healthy.
Joining the conversation were Carli Lloyd, captain of the U.S. Women’s National soccer team (and the star of the Gold Cup final), New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall and NBA No. 1 draft pick Karl-Anthony Towns, now of the Minnesota Timberwolves. They offered insights from the athlete’s perspective on the many benefits of sports.
The panel also included two men with “Friday Night Lights” connections: actor Michael B. Jordan, who starred in the prime-time TV series about a small town’s fascination with football, and Buzz Bissinger, who authored the 1990 book that inspired the movie and television show.
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ESPN analyst Jon Gruden moderated the event, which also was the launch pad for a new initiative from the Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation. The organization announced it has partnered with DonorsChoose.org to create a dedicated “Team Sports” section on the crowdfunding site to support public school athletic programs. In addition, the foundation, through its Sports Matter program, has pledged to match dollar-for-dollar, up to $1.5 million, once each team is funded 50 percent.
“Saving youth sports is a core mission of our company, and we are excited to partner with DonorsChoose.org to keep more kids playing sports,” said Lauren Hobart, president of the Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation.
And the mission is vitally important, according to nonprofit Up2Us, which also participated in the panel yesterday. The organization has reported that $3.5 billion was cut from school sports budgets from 2009 to 2011, and it predicts that by 2020, roughly 27 percent of U.S. public high schools will not have any sports programs.