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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Indiana leaders continue work toward transforming ‘win-at-all-costs’ sports culture

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The InSideOut Initiative — a nonprofit aimed at transforming the “win-at-all-costs” sports culture, which launched in Indiana in August — is expected to be implemented next month.

Sports engage more individuals, families and communities in a shared experience than any other cultural activity, organization or religion. Three out of four American families with school-aged children will have at least one child play an organized sport — approximately 45 million children.

However, youth sports has evolved into an $8 billion industry that promotes early specialization, private one-on-one coaching, multi-team layered participation and a significant financial and emotional investment by parents. Less than 3 percent of high school athletes will go on to play college athletics, and only a fraction of those — less than 1 percent — will ever play professionally. If the value of youth sports comes solely from winning, then millions of kids lose out on the potential for a life-changing human growth experience.

“For sports to provide students with human growth opportunities and moral development, we must move beyond defining success by the scoreboard and create space in the culture for a higher purpose,” said Jody Redman, InSideOut Initiative co-founder and executive director. “The InSideOut Initiative provides a blueprint for systemic change — and guides communities into reframing the purpose of sports and building a system that focuses on the development of the educational, social and emotional well-being of each student-athlete.”

Powered by the NFL Foundation and piloted in Colorado and Texas in 2015, the InSideOut Initiative catalyzes partnerships with educational leaders, state athletic associations and local NFL teams to address the brokenness of the sports culture and engages stakeholders in strategic conversations to redefine the role of interscholastic sports in the lives of students and communities.

“The Indianapolis Colts are proud to support the InSideOut Initiative here in Indiana,” said Pete Ward, chief operating officer of the Indianapolis Colts. “We believe that while accomplishments on the field should be celebrated, they should in no way exceed the character growth of the student throughout their high school sports experience.”

Thanks to comprehensive funding from the NFL Foundation, Indiana is currently undergoing the second of a three-phase InSideOut Initiative year one program rollout. The IHSAA Foundation has received participation from over 130 high schools around the state, gathering leaders in the education and sports communities to discuss the initiative and plan for its implementation.

“We are excited that the second phase of the InSideOut Initiative is rolling out here in Indiana, as we are continuing to grow our participation numbers with our member schools throughout the state,” said Matt Wolfert, president of the IHSAA Foundation. “The second phase allows us to continue to grow our reach of this program with those schools that were unable to join us at our initial event back in August.  At the same time we continue to advance the program for the returning schools, as they will start to receive more in-depth knowledge on how to make the transformation away from a ‘win-at-all-costs’ sports culture. We are looking forward to having the schools start the implementation process in January.” 

“The InSideOut Initiative stands as a critical opportunity for Indiana high schools to reclaim the narrative about what high school sports and youth sports in general should really be all about,” said Bobby Cox, commissioner of the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA). “We are excited to continue to implement the InSideOut Initiative in Indiana and enhance the student-athlete experience in the Hoosier state.”


For more information about InSide

Out, visit insideoutinitiative.org.

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