The Indianapolis Colts are sponsoring Indiana’s rollout of the InSideOut Initiative to transform the current “win-at-all-costs” sports culture in which value is defined by the scoreboard, into one that defines and promotes sports as a human growth experience.
“Sports engage more individuals, families, and communities in a shared experience than any other cultural activity, organization or religion,” wrote the Indianapolis Recorder.
“For sports to provide students with human growth opportunities and moral development, we must move beyond defining success by the scoreboard and create space in the culture for a higher purpose,” said Jody Redman, InSideOut Initiative co-founder and executive director. “The InSideOut Initiative provides a blueprint for systemic change—and guides communities into reframing the purpose of sports and building a system that focuses on the development of the educational, social, and emotional well-being of each student athlete.”
Bobby Cox, commissioner of the Indiana High School Athletic Association, said, “The InSideOut Initiative stands as a critical opportunity for Indiana high schools to reclaim the narrative about what high school sports and youth sports in general should really be all about. We are excited to continue to implement the InSideOut Initiative in Indiana and enhance the student athlete experience in the Hoosier state.”
Youth sports has evolved into an $8 billion industry that promotes early specialization, private one-on-one coaching, and significant financial and emotional investment by parents. Fewer than 3% of high school athletes, however, go on to play college sports, and fewer than 1% percent of those will play professionally.
Sports provide countless teachable moments and a strong system of authority. In part because of the nature of competition, sports provide a context in which young people can learn what is more important than winning.
Writing in 2000 in The Death of Character, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture founder James Davison Hunter saw the cultural dynamics that the InSideOut Initiative is seeking to remedy. He writes: “When one couples the steady evacuation of a cultural habitus [i.e., shared assumptions taken for granted about the way the world is and ought to be] with the weakening of key socializing institutions, one has, in effect, undermined the social and cultural conditions necessary for the cultivation of good character.”
As InSideOut’s video states, “The problem with sports today is that we’ve placed the value in all the wrong places.” If you’re interested in bringing InSideOut to your school, check out their implementation pathway.