The National Council of Youth Sports (NCYS) has joined a larger coalition to advocate for federal relief funding to support the youth sports sector in response to COVID-19. PLAY Sports, which stands for Promoting Local and Youth Sports, represents a united front to support young athletes, working families, coaches, and volunteers across all 50 states, particularly those in under-served areas.
Letters backed by each of the more than 500 Coalition members were delivered to Senator Mitch McConnell, Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate, and Senator Charles Schumer, Minority Leader of the U.S. Senate, as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Among the asks of Congress for support was an $8.5 billion economic stabilization fund for youth sports providers and the formation of a youth sports COVID-19 Task Force.
NCYS has historically supported the youth sports sector in advocating for important issues. This is the critical issue of our time. The unprecedented nature of this issue requires a cooperative effort from all of us. We will all rise or fall together.
“Members of the National Council of Youth Sports (NCYS) represent some of the most influential organizations in the youth sports sector,” said NCYS Executive Director Wayne B. Moss. “The NCYS membership collectively constitutes some 60 million registered participants in organized youth sports programs. Given our commitment to Access to Play, Safe Play, Healthy Play and Quality Play, we are excited to help broaden the youth sports coalition and collectively focus on helping youth sports organizations through these difficult times.”
According to recent poll results shared by the Aspen Institute Project Play Initiative, nearly 60% of local sports leaders said their organizations will project to lose at least 50% of their revenue over the next year due to COVID-19. They have experienced, or are facing, layoffs, furloughs, bankruptcies and facility foreclosures. This includes direct impacts to millions of grassroots coaches who provide invaluable time and leadership to their young athletes and sports.
PLAY Sports’ mission is to ensure that the institutions connected to youth and local sports survive and thrive coming out of this pandemic. Sports provide significant benefits to young people including physical, social, emotional and cognitive benefits. Sports also provide youth with opportunities for building character, leadership and resiliency. The youth sports experience can help society return to a sense of normalcy post-COVID-19 by creating community, connectivity and joy.
The immediate and time-sensitive first initiative of the Coalition will be calling on Congress to assist community organizations not helped by the CARES Act survive until it is safe to return to play. The youth sports industry, comprised almost entirely of volunteers, nonprofits and small businesses, risks a complete collapse.
The economic losses suffered by this forced pause, while not unique to youth sports, apply to the program providers, particularly sports-based youth development programs serving at-risk youth from under-resourced communities, as well as event facility hosts and large numbers of employees and contractors who make sports possible. Priority consideration in the disbursement of these funds will be given to these programs supporting under-served communities including girls and youth with disabilities.