As the COVID-19 pandemic introduces a significant disruption to normal day-to-day life for young people, high school athletics programs have a unique role to play in contributing to a sense of belonging and community that is so desperately needed.
On October 28, in partnership with the Arizona Cardinals, Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) and NFL Foundation, educational and athletic leaders from across the region gathered virtually to build consensus on reclaiming the educational purpose of sports and set the stage for implementation of the InSideOut Initiative in Arizona.
School systems all over the country are diligently working to support the academic, social, emotional and character development of students. Yet historically, state, district, and school leaders uniformly dismiss interscholastic athletics as a viable tool to address this need. The InSideOut Initiative provides training for educational leaders, athletic administrators, coaches, and community-stakeholders and supports schools in redefining and reframing the value of sports as a platform to develop the human potential of students.
“Sports participation while in school offers a tremendous opportunity to make an impact on the social-emotional and character development of our young people. We are thrilled to partner with the Arizona Cardinals and NFL Foundation in launching the InSideOut Initiative to our members and ensuring these student-athletes, coaches and administrators embrace the ideal of education-based athletics,” AIA Executive Director David Hines said.
Since its inception in 2015, the InSideOut Initiative has impacted nearly 4 million student-athletes across 15 states—connecting them to transformational coaches in a nurturing community. The Initiative is uniquely innovative in that it is the first systems-level intervention to prioritize social-emotional and character development in high school athletics.
“The Cardinals are proud to support the launch of the InSideOut initiative in Arizona. Sports of all kinds and at all levels have the unique ability to bring communities together and also instill critical values in young people that last a lifetime. We appreciate the support of our partners in this initiative and the meaningful impact it will have throughout Arizona,” Arizona Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim said.
For sports to provide students with the human growth and moral development opportunities, school communities must redefine and reframe the educational value of participation in athletics. Arizona is committed to doing this work, starting now.