The Member Sign-On letter circulated to Members of Congress for their support and calls for the expansion of emergency funding to save volunteer-driven organizations, youth sports infrastructure and jobs. This would be a critical component to ensuring young people have access to sports in a safe environment and receive physical, social, emotional and cognitive benefits organized sports provide, especially in sports-based youth development programs.
Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI)
“Especially now, physical activity and staying active is so important for kids and teens. While most organized youth sports are on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic, we must ensure that youth sports organizations are able to survive until it’s safe to resume organized sports again. I am proud to work on a bipartisan basis to provide support for youth sports organizations during this difficult time.”
Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL)
“I coached my twin boys’ youth football team for years and I’ve seen firsthand the dedication and sacrifice that’s required by the players, parents, and communities to make these leagues successful. This pandemic has shut down all youth sports and caused uncertainty for young athletes across our country. As a co-chair of the Youth Sports Caucus, we’re working to help these leagues that provide so much value to our kids be able to continue when it’s safe to do so.”
Rep. Marc Veasey (D-TX)
“As a father and former youth athlete, I know firsthand that participation in youth sports offers a multitude of benefits that extends far beyond the court, field, or the arena. Unfortunately, these unprecedented times have greatly impacted the youth sports industry, leaving many of these nonprofits and small businesses on the brink of permanent closures—that is why I am proud to lead this bipartisan effort to call for funding that will help stabilize and support the youth sports sector.”
Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND)
“Youth sports are an integral part of our communities. As a kids’ baseball and softball coach, I’ve seen firsthand how sports teach kids to work as a team, celebrate wins, accept losses, and stay physically fit. Our kids are the ones who stand to lose the most if we don’t come together and help youth sports recover from this pandemic.”
In the past two weeks, the number of local and youth sports organizations who have signed on as members of the PLAY Sports Coalition has more than doubled, surpassing 1,000 community leaders representing millions of young athletes, working families, coaches and volunteers across the country—a national advocacy movement under the campaign title, Unite 2 PLAY (#Unite2PLAY).
These two developments, the Member Sign-On Letter and the increase in Coalition membership mark a commitment to the PLAY Sports mission to ensure that these institutions, particularly sports-based youth development programs serving at-risk youth from under-resourced communities, thrive coming out of the pandemic.
The organizers of the PLAY Sports Coalition said the economic devastation of COVID-19 forced a sudden pause in play that required immediate action. An industry-led almost entirely by volunteers, nonprofits and small businesses risk major disruption resulting from pandemic-driven closures or bankruptcies.
Expanding existing CARES Act relief programs for small businesses and nonprofits in youth and local sports, including sports-based youth development organizations, interscholastic sports programs and youth sports providers, would provide certainty for millions of young athletes.
Among the asks of Congress in the PLAY Sports Coalition’s April 20 letters was the support of an $8.5 billion economic stabilization fund for youth sports providers and the formation of a youth sports COVID-19 task force.
The Congressional Caucus on Youth Sports promotes the values of sportsmanship, civility, respect, health, safety, fun and physical activity among players and leaders, including coaches, parents and officials. Its purpose is to educate members of Congress, the media and the public on the need to restore a child-centered focus in youth sports that will produce immeasurable positive benefits for the well-being and character development among this nation’s youth.
PLAY Sports Coalition is being led by a volunteer steering committee consisting of representatives across the youth sports industry, including Jon Butler (Pop Warner), Jeremy Goldberg (LeagueApps), Keri King (Triple Crown Sports), Benita Fitzgerald Mosley (Olympic Gold Medalist, CEO & Sports Strategist), Wayne B. Moss (National Council of Youth Sports), and Luke Zaientz (Reigning Champs). Active Policy Solutions, led by Terri Lakowski, is serving as a special advisor to the Coalition and its Steering Committee. Visit playsportscoalition.org for more information.