The festivities for Super Bowl XLV began on Jan. 31 in Dallas. I urge everyone in the city to pay close attention to what is going on in the Dallas/Fort Worth area this week and picture all those events right here in our back yard.
It is very easy for everyone to focus on the Super Bowl parties, events and celebrities (and rightfully so), but let’s look at the big picture. More than 1 billion people will watch the Super Bowl and they will all hear great stories about the city of Indianapolis and Hoosier hospitality. But the question I want to ask everyone today is what impact the Super Bowl will have on the overall development of organized sports programs in urban Indianapolis?
In a previous column, I wrote about the low participation numbers in organized sports amongst youth in the inner-city of Indianapolis and how too many kids are missing out on the valuable life lessons that come with participating in organized sports. Before I go any further, I know the good people working with the Super Bowl organizing committee in Indianapolis are working hard to build a community center at Arsenal Technical High School.
I don’t mean to sound naïve, but last time I checked, the Super Bowl was a football game; it is an opportunity for the NFL to showcase the greatest sporting event that the United States of America has to offer (and thank its corporate sponsors), and also an opportunity for a city to showcase the impact that organized youth sports is having on the overall development of youth in the community.
Over the last year, I have been asking how the Super Bowl coming to town is going to impact youth sports in the city? ow is it going to help develop sustainable youth programs for a community that is pleading for youth programs? How is it going to help recruit more professional and dedicated volunteer coaches? How is it going to help youth programs purchase equipment for kids that cannot afford those products?
It would be great if someone sat down with leaders of the various youth leagues that serve this community to find out how the excitement and resources from the Super Bowl can help them better serve the community. All of the popular national organizations like the Boys and Girls Club and YMCA will reap the benefits from the Super Bowl, but we cannot forget about local organizations like Tabernacle Presbyterian Recreation league, the Coach Alonzo Watford Inner City League, and many more that have served this community for decades. We have to make sure that they have something to show for the Super Bowl coming to town.
Super Bowl XLVI can serve as a turning point for youth sports in inner-city Indianapolis, just like the Pan Am games helped improve amateur sports in Indianapolis and the state of Indiana in 1987.
The big game also can help to decorate and clean up the Far Eastside in what has been tagged as “The Legacy Project.” I applaud the work they are doing and appreciate the impact it will have in that community.