InSideOut Initiative aims to ‘reclaim’ purpose of youth sports

Browns offensive lineman John Greco can still remember the impact his high school and college coaches had on him on and off the field. And there’s something about Hue Jackson that reminds him of the men who helped mold the now 10-year NFL veteran.

“The way he carries himself, you’re willing to do anything you can because you don’t want to let him down,” said Greco, who spoke Monday at a workshop for the InSideOut Initiative, which aims to change the current win-at-all-costs culture in high school sports.

“And that’s the thing, if you have that care and commitment to your players, your students, whatever it is, I think you’re going to get that back in the long run.”

That’s the kind of approach co-founders Jody Redman and Joe Ehrmann have stressed over the past few years. Instead of a narrow, scoreboard-driven focus, the InSideOut Initiative promotes intentional development of the educational, social and emotional well-being of each student-athlete across all sports.

“The youth sport industry is now an $8 billion industry and it has refined really what the purpose of education-based athletics is all about,” said Redman, a former college athlete who also serves as the initiative’s executive director.

“It’s no longer about kids having an experience around a game that they love but it’s become an industry that really is centered and focused around more on adults than it is kids. So we’re here today to reclaim the education purpose of sports.”

Indeed, the InSideOut Initiative maintains winning is an important goal, but not the purpose of education-based sports.