Monday, June 08, 2020

Athletes Can Take The Lead

Last Sunday I posted a "do the planning" article after watching protest marches take place across the country and around the world. I emphasized that long-term leadership is required to solve the problems we face. Today's Chicago SunTimes provides the inspiration for this week's article.

Below is a photo from the sports section, showing athletes from Chicago pro sports teams who met with youth in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago last week.

See photos in 6/8/2020 Chicago SunTimes - click here
I have posted 35 articles over past decade showing a greater role that athletes and celebrities can take to motivate their fans to give time, talent and dollars to support youth-serving organizations in different neighborhoods of Chicago. This will be number 36.

My articles focus on the mental part of building a great team and the consistent long-term work required.  Most sports teams have thick play-books that coaches use to train athletes to work together to defeat opponents.

Build a game plan for ending racism & fighting poverty. 
In my articles I urge the development of a game plan, with blueprints showing work needed to support youth at every age level, as they move from birth to adult lives, jobs and the freedom to live anywhere, without worry for the safety of themselves or their kids.

Adopt a Neighborhood

The map at the left visualizes my goal that athletes adopt specific neighborhoods for one year of support (which can repeat in future years).

During that year they will use media opportunities to talk about their neighborhood, it's needs, and how fans can  help every youth serving organization become great, by having the support needed to build great youth development, tutoring and mentoring teams.

Instead of supporting a single program in one area, they draw attention to every program within their adopted neighborhood, and lead planning efforts that determine if there is a need for more programs in that area, or for more of specific types of programs.
Youth need support at
every age level

What if every athlete in the SunTimes photo at the top of this article had a blog, and on that blog they were writing their own versions of articles I've posted for the past 15 years on this blog? Would more people be reading them? Would more be inspired to act?

Every athlete could be talking about the many years of hard work needed to reach a pro career, and the coaches who helped them along the way.  They could also do more reflection, asking "Who paid the bills, and raised the money, so these coaches could be a consistent part of their lives for many years, and so there would be high schools, colleges and pro sports franchises where they could grow their careers?"

Below is another graphic they could write about. It's included in this article. Every athlete could create their own version of this, and share it in a variety of formats. Then they could meet and share ideas, in "coaching clinics" so each builds better game plans from year-to-year.

Inspire volunteers from different industries to support growth of programs in every zip code.
My articles and graphics emphasize the 20-25 years it takes for a child to grow from birth to work, and how programs supporting this growth need to be available in every high poverty area of Chicago and other cities and zip codes.

Athletes could create their own versions of these articles. They could also inspire fans to create new versions. They could inspire (and fund) programs that encourage youth to dig into my articles then create their own interpretations (see how interns did this from 2006 to 2016).

Right now athletes and coaches are meeting via ZOOM and athletes are studying playbooks from the safety of their homes.

My blog is a playbook! So is my website

adopt a neighborhood

Finally, what if there were an end-of-year awards event, hosted by President Obama, Oprah, LeBron James, Magic Johnson and other leaders, to recognize the work athletes did during the past year to support neighborhoods and help youth programs grow.  Give athletes the stage and let them boast of their work.  Aggregate websites that show game plans, so that as the event draws millions of viewers it also provides fuel to support a new year of the same work, done better because each athlete is learning from the work done by others.

If you read this, share it with athletes and sports writers. Maybe one will pick up this challenge and provide the leadership to get others to adopt it.

Keeping attention focused on the problem and on solutions that need to be applied in thousands of places is the challenge we have failed to meet for the past 60 years. This is a strategy to meet that challenge.

NOTE: as you begin to think of visualizing current problems and solutions I suggest you read this article by Steve Whitla. 

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