Sunday, September 11, 2022

Football and great teams.

College football started a couple of weeks ago, but to me, it's the kick-off of the NFL season that signals the real beginning of the fall sports season. 

My team, the Chicago Bears, have new leadership and many new players. They are still trying to put a winning team on the field.  That requires involvement of ownership. coaches, fans, investors, players and all of the high school and college feeder programs around the country. They all play a role.

I've been using this graphic since the late 1990s t
o visualize the need to support kids in high poverty areas with school and non-school hours programs, that offer many types of support for many years.

Such programs are needed in every zip code.

Thus, as we enter another football season, I want to draw your attention to the infrastructure that is needed to build great teams. Then I want to ask you to think of ways volunteers in business, civic and alumni groups, sports, entertainment and faith groups, etc. can take on roles of fans and team owners to build and sustain great tutor/mentor programs in every high poverty area of Chicago and other cities.

Below is a graphic I've been trying to develop for many years.

The team on the field consists of youth and volunteers who are connected via the efforts of the staff and leaders of organized tutoring, mentoring and learning programs. Youth in poverty face many obstacles, thus the defensive line in this graphic represents some of those barriers. However, organized tutor/mentor programs in high poverty neighborhoods also face many challenges.

Unless we as a city can overcome these challenges
(visualized in this concept map) there will be too few great tutor/mentor programs in the many Chicago area neighborhoods where they are needed. Or in neighborhoods of other cities where NFL, NBA and other pro sports teams operate.

In my football field graphic, the fans in the stands are people who work in business, attend faith services weekly, attend local colleges, etc. These are the people who support great sports teams by their attendance, by watching on TV, or listening on the radio. They support sport teams, and sponsors, by the way they purchase sports apparel, and the way they talk about their teams on a daily basis. These are people who could be volunteering time, talent and dollars to support tutor/mentor programs.

In the sky-boxes are team owners, boosters, investors and others who pay millions of dollars to make great teams the professional level, and at the major college level. Unless we find investors like this to support the growth of great tutor/mentor teams in more places, there will be too few, and there will be few who have long-term commitments to building great teams.

This next graphic shows the role of intermediaries. The articles I write and graphics I create are limited by the talent I have to do this work. The number of people who see these is limited by my own lack of personal visibility and advertising dollars. Thus, if we want more great teams we need more people doing what I do, taking on an intermediary role to help connect people they know with ideas and with programs where they can help implement these ideas.

I send out a monthly email newsletter, with graphics like these, and with links to different sections of my web library. This section points to almost 200 Chicago area youth serving organizations who need support from fans and owners to be world class at what they do.

The goal is that people use the information I'm aggregating to expand the range of ideas they have to support actions they take to help great tutor/mentor teams be available in more places. Volunteers from different places could help create a better design for this newsletter, could write articles, and could create their own versions to circulate this information to their own network of family, friends, co-workers, etc. 

Since most of my library points to Chicago youth programs, every city needs someone duplicating my efforts and building their own library of local programs, maps and research.  

Below is an animation that illustrates a role athletes could take on a regular basis to mobilize fans and owners to support constantly improving youth programs in high poverty areas.

This animation, and other videos in my library, could be re-produced in many ways, with hundreds of different athletes, celebrities, etc. giving the message.

This isn't something that happens once a year, like the Super Bowl, or NBA AllStar game, or every 2 years like an Olympics. But if it is given the same attention, the result will be better support of hundreds, or thousands of different youth serving organizations operating in Chicago and other cities.

And ultimately, that will provide more of the support youth need to move through school and into adult lives and careers.

I'm on Twitter @tutormentorteam, which is where I'll be commenting during weekly football games and as I attend webinars focused on understanding and reducing poverty, racism and inequality.  I do that every day. 

 I've been sharing these ideas for many years. Here's a late 1990s article from Crain's Chicago Business, describing what I've been trying to do. 

Join me. Follow me. Share your own game plan in blogs like mine. Feel free to use my articles for your own game plan and play book. As you share your own strategies, I and others will borrow from you.

Thanks for reading. Let's go out and help great youth tutor/mentor programs grow in more places.

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