Monday Night Football Sports Matter Initiative Provides Much-Needed Funding and Equipment to Football Teams in MNF Host Cities
Jon Gruden Hosts Weekly Chalk Talks with Local Youth and High School Football Players and Coaches to Recognize the Value of Sports Participation
ESPN, DICK’S Sporting Goods and the NFL have come together to support youth and high school sports teams across the country. The Monday Night Football Sports Matter initiative provides football teams in MNF cities with much-needed resources and sports equipment to address barriers to access and enable more youth to participate and obtain the benefits of playing sports. In addition, MNF analyst and Super Bowl-winning head coach Jon Gruden hosts Chalk Talk events with youth and high school football players and coaches to provide mentorship and discuss the value of sports participation.
As part of this effort, ESPN has donated $100,000 to DonorsChoose.org and will make additional donations to youth sports teams over the course of the 2016 MNF season. The NFL Foundation, together with USA Football, the sport’s national governing body, has matched ESPN’s $100,000 donation to provide resources and sports equipment to high school football teams in each NFL market. USA Football will also host Heads Up Football clinics for participating teams in select MNF markets to help advance player safety in the game of football.
“Football is a great game and a great teacher,” said Gruden, who was presented with the first-ever DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation Sports Matter Impact Award in April. “Kids learn lessons on the field – work ethic, teamwork, sportsmanship and mental toughness – that will help them off the field for the rest of their lives. But like all youth sports programs, there’s not enough funding to go around. That’s why the FFCA [Fired Football Coaches Association] and I are working with ESPN, DICK’S and the NFL to improve the situation. We invite you to join us and do what you can in your own community to support youth sports and create more opportunities for kids.”
Gruden and his Fired Football Coaches Association (FFCA) are committed to raising awareness about the youth sports funding crisis and doing what they can to help by providing monetary support to bolster local programs throughout the country. To this end, Gruden hosts Chalk Talk sessions in MNF host cities during the season. Each participating team receives funding and equipment from ESPN, DICK’S and the NFL Foundation to support its football program.
“Our company mission of serving sports fans includes young athletes who want to play sports, be active, and be part of a team, but may not have the resources to do so,” said Kevin Martinez, ESPN’s vice president of corporate citizenship. “We’re proud to work with Jon, our MNF team, DICK’S and the NFL to create opportunities for kids and youth programs that need it most.”
The goal of the MNF Sports Matter initiative is to help address the systemic problem that exists for many youth and high school football teams across the country, particularly in underserved communities, who find the financial impediment to playing sports a barrier for the youth participating.
“Playing football teaches kids important life lessons. The values learned on the football field play a key role in personal growth and development. At the NFL, we’re committed to creating more opportunities for sport participation at all levels,” said Roman Oben, NFL senior director of youth and high school football. “This collaboration with ESPN and DICK’S Sporting Goods will help us progress our efforts to remove barriers to access and enable more athletes across the country to participate and benefit from playing football.”
Through the Sports Matter campaign, DICK’S Sporting Goods and the DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation have made a $50 million multi-year commitment to support youth athletic programs, including donations to community sports leagues. Since 2014, they have helped more than 1,800 youth sports teams, and ESPN and the NFL’s support will help positively impact more athletes nationwide.
DICK’S is also the official sponsor of this year’s MNF bus – which is being adorned with the decals of teams who participate in Gruden’s Chalk Talk sessions – and the weekly Monday Night Countdown bus segment where Gruden sits one-on-one with a player or coach.