Sports Matter - DICK’s Sporting Goods and the DICK’s Sporting Goods Foundation
The Harlem 76-ers this year is offering 145 local students a no-fee lacrosse program. The Mustang Swim Team of Los Angeles will continue to provide a high quality swim program for children from low-income communities, and the APEX Elites of New Orleans will be able to provide a safe place for kids to play basketball. These programs’ funding was secured by the Sports Matter program developed by DICK’s Sporting Goods and the DICK’s Sporting Goods Foundation.
In recent years, billions of dollars have been cut from youth sports programs nationwide and 60 percent of children must now pay a fee to play. A study predicts that by 2020, 27 percent of U.S. public schools will not offer interscholastic sports programs. Yet evidence shows that students who play sports are significantly more likely to stay in school and go to college and improve such social skills as managing emotions, resolving conflict, and resisting peer pressure.
In March 2014, DICK’s Sporting Goods and the DICK’s Sporting Goods Foundation announced a $25 million multi-year commitment to support youth athletic programs including donations to and sponsorships of local sports teams. Simultaneously DICK’s Sporting Goods Foundation’s Sports Matter initiative was launched. This initiative had two pillars: one–to raise awareness about the issue of underfunded youth athletics and two–a proprietary crowd-funding platform through which selected youth sports teams could raise money from supporters and earn a matching grant through the foundation.
The foundation produced a feature-length documentary in partnership with Tribeca Digital Studios and director Judd Erlich called We Could Be King, which depicts two Philadelphia high schools that were forced to consolidate due to severe budget cuts. Specifically, the film focused on the merger of the two schools’ football teams, which had to work together to repair the fractured community they represented. The film aired on ESPN channels and AC throughout April and May and became available On Demand the following August.
DICK’s also dedicated its spring paid media campaign to supporting Sports Matter, creating TV spots that reinforced the impact of sports on young people. In addition, Save Youth Sports Week ran for seven days integrated into ESPN content and programming, including broadcast programs like SportsCenter, digital and print media, social media posts, and guest appearances by Sports Matter celebrity spokesman John Gruden on several ESPN studio and radio shows.
The results were convincing: 184 teams joined the Crowdfunding program representing 35 states and 35 unique sports. They were offered support on how to use the online fundraising from GOODcorps and the teams raised more than $2 million in donations during the five-week fundraising campaign. With DICK’s Sporting Goods Foundation matching grants, $4.6 million reached youth sports teams facing severe financial challenges.
For DICK’s the benefits were also substantial: consumers said that DICK’s Sporting Goods believes that “participation in sports is important” and according to Q3 Brand Tracker, DICK’s significantly surpasses competitors in being seen as a store that believes participation in sports is important and that the company believes in supporting the local sports community.
One hundred percent of the 184 participating teams reached their fundraising goals. The foundation’s $2 million in grants leveraged an additional $2.6 million, including over $100,000 from DICK’s vendors. The program attracted more than 550,000 individual donors—5,000 on line and 545,000 in-store. Eighty percent of the teams said they were likely or very likely to continue crowdfunding.