Champion Athleticwear, the National Alliance for Youth Sports and a council of key sports industry leaders are launching an effort to create an Athletes' Creed, a belief system designed to inspire players of all levels to reclaim the pure enjoyment of the game, the irrepressible camaraderie of a team and the spirit of clean competition.

The Champion Athletes' Creed will be the collaboration between real, everyday athletes and an advisory council comprised of industry insiders, including ESPN's Skip Bayless, Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall and U.S. Lacrosse President Steve Stenersen. Starting today, athletes can enter their own athletic Principles for potential inclusion in the Athletes' Creed as well as vote on the Principles submitted by the advisory council at Champion's Facebook page (

The need for the Creed became apparent after a national opinion survey of young athletes commissioned by Champion and the National Alliance for Youth Sports revealed that more than two-thirds of athletes believe sportsmanship is on the decline and more than 81 percent agree athletes today would rather win than play completely fairly.

Champion brand ambassador and Steelers star Rashard Mendenhall underscores the importance of balancing spirited competition with clean play. “Sportsmanship is what makes a good game, and, more important, a good athlete in the eyes of your teammates, opponents and fans,” Mendenhall said. “It doesn't matter what sport you play or what level you play at.”
As Athletes Get Older, Fair Play Takes a Back Seat to Winning

Sports continue to play a vital role in the lives of young men and women, inspiring self-confidence and providing a sense of well-being and fun, and an overwhelmingly 93 percent confirm playing sports is the most fun when everyone shows good sportsmanship, win or lose, according to the commissioned survey¹ of more than 1,500 athletes between the ages of 18 and 30 years old.

The survey results also, however, uncovered that 68 percent believe sportsmanship is on the decline; with more than half admitting they don't have as much fun playing sports now as they did when they were younger. Why? What's changed? A host of reasons:

    * More than three-quarters (79%) point out that showing good sportsmanship doesn't seem to be as important to athletes as it used to be
    * 81% agree that athletes today would rather win the game than play completely fairly
    * In fact, 73% indicate their athletic peers believe it's cheating only if they're caught
    * 86% of young athletes say they've seen trash-talk during games increase as they've gotten older – and not just to their teammates; an astounding 81% agree athletes today seem to have less respect for officials
    * Unsportsmanlike conduct is not restricted to the athletes themselves. Nearly half of survey respondents (45 percent) have considered quitting sports because of their coach's behavior, with 41 percent reporting their coach is concerned more about winning than sportsmanship

“Our survey proves that young athletes are passionate about bringing fair play back,” says Claire Powell, Director Champion Brand Marketing. “The Champion Athletes' Creed will enable and empower these athletes by encouraging sportsmanship and giving them a voice to help change the behavioral trends they are experiencing, from the pool to the court and from the field to the gym.”

“Creating a healthy attitude toward sports starts when you're young and starts with the example coaches, administrators and volunteers set,” says Pysha Simmons, marketing coordinator for the National Alliance of Youth Sports (NAYS). “It is our hope that this survey will rally athletes and their coaches to help us write the Champion Athletes' Creed and bring it back to their teams and communities.”

Industry leaders James Parker, director of sports for the Amateur Athletic Union, and Mike Millay, director, sports events for ESPN Wide World of Sports, will join ESPN's Bayless, the Steelers' Mendenhall, U.S. Lacrosse's Stenersen, Champion's Powell, and NAYS' Simmons, on the Champion Athletes' Creed Council. Together, these council members have created a framework for the Athletes' Creed by drawing upon experiences that cross the athletic landscape, from the softball field to the basketball court and from amateur competitions to professional playoffs.

“I truly believe that athletes are looking for a resurgence in sportsmanship and there is no better time than now,” says Bayless, a longtime sports journalist. “I'm proud to work with Champion to create the foundation of the Athletes' Creed to help them take that stand.”

Users are invited to vote on and submit to the Athletes' Creed at between July 14 and August 6 for a chance to win Champion apparel. The final version will be published in late August at which time users will be encouraged to “Click to Commit” to the Creed and its mission to put fair play back in the game.