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InSideOut Initiative Seeks to Eliminate Win-At-All-Costs Culture in Youth Sports

5 Sep, 2018

By: Michael Popke

Former NFL player Joe Ehrmann and athlete-turned-athletic administrator Jody Redman have teamed up to create the InSideOut Initiative— a new effort supported by the NFL Foundation to transform the “win-at-all-costs” attitude that pervades youth sports. 

“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,” reads a statement identified as “The Problem”on the InSideOut Initiative’s website. “Yet research tells us that less than three percent of high school athletes will go on to play college athletics, and only a fraction of those, less than one percent, will ever play professionally.”

This approach has been tried countless times over the ages, from programs affiliated with the National Alliance for Youth Sportsto efforts by multiple state high school associations.

Yet Ehrmann and Redmansay what they’re proposing is different.

“For sports to provide students with human growth and moral development, we must move beyond defining success by the scoreboard, and create space for sports to be centered on a higher purpose,” according to the website. ‘The InSideOut Initiative provides a blueprint for systemic change that creates this space, elevates the purpose of the participation and holds school communities accountable utilizing the InSideOut System and the InSideOut Philosophy. Through well-defined pathways, supportive leadership and intentional coaching, students will develop much more than the physical skills of a game. They will develop the capacity to lead productive, morally rich, empathetic lives that will result in the betterment of society.”

The InSideOut System relies on four “A”s:

1. Awareness – Defines the purpose of education-based athletics

2. Alignment – Instills a common language

3. Action – Provides education, resources and tools

4. Accountability – Establishes clear expectations, policies and procedures

The program started as a pilot in Colorado and Texas in 2015 and has spread to NFL markets in California, Indiana and Ohio. The Tennessee Titans will partner in the program along with the NFL Foundation, the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association and other groups, according to the Associated Press

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