Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Supporting Youth Sports in Congress

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Supporting Youth Sports in Congress

Article excerpt

Rep. Mike McIntyre is the leading advocate for youth sports on Capitol Hill

In 2005, the Citizenship Through Sports Alliance released the first-ever Report Card on Youth Sports in America. The report graded youth sports in five different categories - child-centered philosophy, coaching, health and safety, officiating, and parental behavior and involvement. The results were alarming. It was a report card no parent would have deemed acceptable.

A number of unsettling trends had taken shape in youth sports - the rise of the "win-at-all-cost" mentality, the push for early sports specialization, poor sportsmanship among parents and coaches, and an increasing number of overinvested parents seeking sports scholarships. The report card was a wake-up call. Our efforts must be redoubled to provide a positive and safe sports environment for our kids.

As a Little League coach himself, Rep. McIntyre knew the difference that sports can make in the life of a child. Not only do studies show that student athletes make better grades in school, are less likely to be obese, get in less trouble and are more likely to be successful later in the workplace, sports also teach values like good sportsmanship, discipline, civility, respect and teamwork. In fact, sports have the opportunity to help shape the character of each child who walks onto the field.

In 2006, Rep. McIntyre launched the Congressional Caucus on Youth Sports, a bipartisan organization committed to bringing fim, recreation and character development back to the forefront of youth sports. Over the years, the caucus has expanded its mission to combat childhood obesity and promote fitness, nutrition and overall healthy lifestyles among our nation's youth. The caucus also seeks to support and strengthen the efforts of the abundance of organizations, both national and local, tirelessly working to improve the state of youth sports in our country for the 44 million American children who participate.

In 2011, Rep. McIntyre worked with park and recreation directors in his district to host "Southeastern N.C. in Motion!" The event featured an ensemble of interactive stations where children could experience a variety of recreational opportunities and learn about good nutrition. Kids were able to practice their swing with the PGA, "go long" with Carolina Panthers, and hear an inspiring story about sportsmanship from 2008 U.S. Track and Field Olympian MeChelle Lewis. Thanks to the support of his partners on the ground and other exceptional organizations, Rep. McIntyre was able to provide a tangible opportunity for kids, regardless of their age, fitness level or socioeconomic status, to be active, learn about healthy eating and experience the benefits of wellness.

In 2012, Rep. McIntyre and Sen. Tom Harkin commissioned a Government Accountability Office study on the state of youth sports in the United States. The report, entitled "School-Based Physical Education (P.E.) and Sports Programs," discussed the challenges of providing P.E. and sports opportunities within the school system. Rep. McIntyre briefed NRPA on the study's results and hosted a panel discussion with P.E. and youth sports stakeholders to discuss ways in which states, schools and communities might mitigate those challenges.

In 2013, with the help of NRPA and other notable sports organizations, Rep. McIntyre released the 113th Congress Youth Sports Legislative Agenda, entitled "F.A.N.S. for Youth Sports." The agenda is a compilation of current legislation that augments the mission of the Congressional Caucus on Youth Sports and is the third of its kind with two other agendas released in the 110th and 112th Congresses. Each legislative measure included in the agenda supports one of the four F.A.N.S. pillars - Fitness, Access, Nutrition and Safety. …

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