The InsideOut Initiative is a grant program funded by the MSHSL and NFL Foundation. About 80 Activities/Athletic Directors brought 5 coaches each to US Bank Stadium for a 3-hour conference to gain a better understanding of the InsideOut Initiative and the Why We Play curriculum. SFHS Activities Director Jeff Fink and coaches Matt Norton, Ryan Hauge, Scott Schmidt, Brian Sworsky, and Al Schlomann attended. Mr. Fink is a member of a cohort of activity directors who will attend monthly training to develop curriculum to use with coaches and teams.
There is a transformation emerging in high school athletics. This shift is based on the simple belief that when properly administered, sports is not about just wins and losses, but its potential to change the world for the better. Mistakes and setbacks are growth opportunities for everyone involved, and working through them is where the power of sports is found.
Too frequently winning is viewed as the paramount outcome from participation in sports, and the countless opportunities to develop character skills such as empathy, moral courage, trust, honesty, responsibility, and respect are missed or overlooked. Administrators and coaches who see the power in educational athletics have the power to put the focus on the growth of the athlete. Participating in sports should be an educational activity, every success or failure should be an opportunity to learn and develop as young adults.
Over the past three years, many coaches have made a concerted effort to incorporate many of the principles of the Why We Play curriculum. We are planning on expanding and growing this through the InSideOut Initiative, which offers tools and guidance for changing the culture of high school and youth sports. The program will push us to a higher standard, and it is growing nationwide.
The ebb and flow of sports participation has been publicized widely. It tells us that less than six percent of high school athletes go on to play college athletics and less than one percent of those college athletes ever play professionally. It also reveals that for the almost eight million students who play high school sports, the primary reason they participate is to have fun. Yet youth sports have evolved into an $8 billion industry that promotes early specialization, private one-on-one coaching, year-round participation, and a significant financial and emotional investment from parents.
In many cases, over-organized and adult-driven youth sports have created an unsustainable frenzy, driving the fun out of sports. Parents and athletes become afraid that if they don’t comply with the “more is better” cultural pressure, they will be left behind. This tension has resulted in an unhealthy and pressure-filled athletic experience for millions of students, doing little to develop their human potential and character skills we want for all of our students.
Jody Redman, Associate Director at the Minnesota State High School League, and Joe Ehrmann, a former NFL player turned educator are leading a national effort to turn the win-at-all-costs model on its head. During the 2016-2017, Jody Redman was a speaker at the Mississippi 8 student leadership conference and our St.Francis leaders and coaches developed the following statements for the SFHS Activities Department.
St. Francis High School- Why We Play
Our Collective Purpose:
As Saints we participate in athletics because we are driven with passion for our sport and school, with an emphasis on building lasting relationships and being role-models in our school and community.
Our Collective Definition of Success:
We are successful when we play hard, compete together, continually strive to improve, and do so with individual and team integrity.
Keeping our Purpose Alive:
- Ensure that our coaches and athletes have a common understanding of our purpose and definition of success through monthly training.
- Monthly Saints Leadership meetings
- Athlete purpose statements posted throughout our athletic venues and school commons.
- Saints Leadership group meetings with coaches
- Training for our school board and administration
- Training for parents
If you would like more information, please contact Mr. Fink in the Activities office.