Minnesota High Schools make commitment to transform the “Win-at-all-Costs” sports culture

Eighty Minnesota high school athletic administrators have made a year-long commitment to address the specific needs of today’s youth as part of a collaborative partnership with the Minnesota State High School League, the InSideOut Initiative and the Super Bowl LII Host Committee Legacy Fund.

The kickoff for the training—Why We Play InSideOut Team—begins Wednesday, August 2 at U.S. Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis, and is the first phase of a year-long commitment being made by the partners to educate school athletic administrators on skill development to implement the initiative with leaders, coaches and students in their communities. In this first phase of training, the group will meet from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

“For sports to provide students with a place to belong, moral character development, and accountability to established expectations, our culture must move beyond defining the value of sports by the scoreboard and create space in the culture for a higher purpose,” said MSHSL Associate Director Jody Redman, and co-founder of the InSideOut Initiative. “It is one that guides school communities into reframing the purpose of sports and that focuses on the development of the social and emotional well-being of every student-athlete.”

The MSHSL will provide athletic administrators with training and curriculum, developed by the InSideOut Initiative, for coaches during the 2017-18 school year and for students participating in those school communities during the 2018-19 school year.

“We know sports engage more people in a shared experience than any other cultural activity, organization or religion—and we have the opportunity through Super Bowl LII to make a tremendous impact this year,” said Dana Nelson, Vice President of the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee. “We’re honored to partner with the MSHSL and InSideOut Initiative to support the kickoff of this important year-long educational opportunity to improve the sports experience for students—and proud of our home state of Minnesota for championing the movement.”

One of the areas of concentration will be on the mental health crisis that faces today’s youth.

In the book Hardwired to Connect, a commissioned-study by a panel of leading doctors, research scientists and youth service professionals, describes for the nation new strategies to reduce the currently high numbers of U.S. children who are suffering from mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, conduct disorders, and thoughts of suicide.

Findings of the study identified a lack of connectedness as the root of this significant issue. The commission defined three fundamental needs of every child: The need to belong and be affirmed of inherent value and worth, the need for moral character development and a belief system, and the need to be a part of an authentic community that holds individuals accountable to a set of defined expectations.

The study states, “enduring attachments to other people for moral development is the best way to ensure a child’s healthy development.” School athletic programs are one of the potential solutions that meet these fundamental needs if the adults who provide them are intentional about this significant role.

Why We Play, developed in 2012 by the Minnesota State High School League, is a statewide program created to reclaim the educational purpose of sports. The Why We Play curriculum was founded on the philosophy and four questions contained in Joe Ehrmann’s book InSideOut Coaching; How Sports Transforms Lives. In 2015, a partnership was formed between Joe Ehrmann and Jody Redman and the InSideOut Initiative was launched.

The InSideOut Initiative is funded by the National Football League Foundation, and catalyzes partnerships with educational leaders, state athletic associations and local NFL teams to address the brokenness of the sports culture, and engages stakeholders in strategic conversations to re-define the role of interscholastic sports in the lives of students and communities. The InSideOut Initiative is currently engaged with 12 NFL markets in nine states