In an era where youth sports are essential yet often under-resourced, the PLAY Sports Coalition has made significant strides to change the narrative. This organization, a beacon for the youth sports industry, has unlocked substantial state funding, ensuring young athletes in underserved areas of Maryland and Massachusetts receive the support they deserve.
Championing the Under-Resourced Youth Sports Sector
The PLAY Sports Coalition’s primary mission since its foundation has been to champion the youth sports organizations. “We know the youth sports sector is under-resourced, particularly given the magnitude of the impact of sports on children and communities,” said Jeremy Goldberg, LeagueApps President and PLAYS board co-chair.
These sentiments were echoed by Peter Frintzilas, CEO of TeamSnap and a PLAYS board member, who noted the increasing challenge of ensuring sports access in disadvantaged communities. Frintzilas took pride in collaborating with state governments to bridge this gap.
Collaborating with the Maryland Office of Tourism Development and the Massachusetts Office of Housing and Economic Development, PLAYS has effectively distributed $450,000 in funding. This funding supports over 30 nonprofit youth sports organizations, offsetting costs associated with sports gear, facility refurbishments, and program costs.
In Maryland, $200,000 was distributed among 14 organizations, while in Massachusetts, 17 organizations shared a grant pool of $250,000.
Across the board, beneficiaries expressed gratitude and optimism for the future. Volo Kids executive director, Jen Rifkin, commented on the potential expansion in recreational deserts across Boston and Baltimore. Meanwhile, Bruno Contreras, Director at Soccer Without Borders Boston, highlighted how these funds would help eliminate numerous barriers faced by young newcomers to sports.
State officials, too, recognize the profound impact of sports on youth development. Maryland State Senator Guy Guzzone acknowledged the significant role sports play in fostering skills like teamwork, perseverance, and confidence. Similarly, Massachusetts State Senator John Velis lauded youth sports for their contribution to physical and mental well-being.
Implications for the iGaming Industry:
- Wider Funding Opportunities: PLAYS’ success in unlocking funds from legalized sports betting tax revenue suggests a promising precedent for other states to invest in youth sports.
- Holistic Growth: As sports betting grows, a portion of its revenue can be channeled back into communities, fostering a positive image for the iGaming industry.
- Legislation and Support: The advocacy of PLAYS hints at a future where iGaming industries and youth sports co-exist in mutual support, as seen in the PLAYS in Youth Sports Act re-introduction.
In conclusion, while the path to ensuring equitable sports access is long, PLAY Sports Coalition’s endeavors are undoubtedly carving a way forward, ensuring that the next generation reaps the manifold benefits of sports.