Amid Decline In Sports And Play, Especially In Communities Of Color, Return To Play Fund Provides Resources To Help Get Kids Playing Again

31 January 2023

In all its forms, sports and play can make people feel safe, part of and connected, especially kids. Participation can instill community and bring people together to help forge a sense of belonging. However, according to research, only 47% of Hispanic parents and 42% of African American parents anticipate their child resuming sports at the same or higher level than pre-pandemic. Black and Brown kids also have less access to safe, affordable play spaces that don't require transportation. (Aspen Institute Project Play, 2021)

In response to the substantial disparities which were exacerbated by the pandemic, global sport for social change foundation, Beyond Sport, and leading multimedia sports entertainment brand, ESPN, co-founded the Return to Play Fund in 2021 to use sport to promote youth mental and physical wellbeing, address racial inequities and increase access to safe facilities for recreation.
Guided by an Expert Advisory Council encompassing specialists in public health and trauma-informed responses, diversity, equity and inclusion and youth sports programming, the collaborative Fund supports nonprofit community sport organizations that are not only dedicated to getting young people of color moving again, but also in providing them with guidance and opportunities to grow, succeed and be confident in their abilities.

To engage the public in the effort, ESPN today released a Public Service Announcement (PSA) that calls for equal access for all kids to the resources they need to play sports, especially in underserved communities. Featuring SportsCenter anchor, Jay Harris, and youth from a Bronx, New York Boys & Girls Club, the spot will air across ESPN's TV and digital platforms with an audio version running on Sirius XM Radio.

"At ESPN, we're committed to continuing our support of communities of color to gain greater access to youth sports especially since sports and play provision for Black and Brown communities has always been inadequate and have become even more vulnerable following the coronavirus pandemic," said Vice President of ESPN Corporate Citizenship, Kevin Martinez. "In addition to providing critical resources through the Return to Play Fund, we're proud to use our media platforms to support this new PSA to bring greater awareness to this important issue."

Access full release:

BEYOND SPORT - [email protected]