This past Saturday night I had the great privilege of attending the 2017 SportsWorld Ministries Choose To Win Banquet in Indianapolis. The president is none other than former Notre Dame football player, Devon McDonald; and the keynote speaker this year was former Notre Dame football player, Jerome Bettis. We spent a delightful evening learning more about the ministries of SportsWorld, and the impressive impact that they are having on the youth of our country. I’d love to share with you the mission of the SportsWorld Ministries, and share the great works they are doing with the youth in so many communities.
SportsWorld founder, Dr. Ira Lee Eshleman, helped shape the National Football League’s “Chapel Program” in the 1960’s. Through his ten-year involvement with players and coaches as the NFL’s Chaplain, “Doc” witnessed first-hand the consequences of choices made by pro athletes in their younger years. He developed a passion and heart to help the next generation make positive choices – and what better way than through the voices of professional athletes.
In 1978, Doc founded an organization known as SportsWorld, Inc. The mission of SportsWorld was simple. Address problems facing our nation’s youth by sending professional athletes to share personal life experiences with students, helping them to recognize the consequences of their choices while challenging them with the message of hope in Christ.
Today, SportsWorld Pros encourage over half a million students, teachers, coaches and administrators each year.
Because of their professional athletic backgrounds, these trained speakers are able to capture the hearts of students nationwide – providing the hero students so desperately need. SportsWorld Pros communicate that while the pressures of life continue, each individual battle can be won by making positive choices. SportsWorld provides opportunities to experience ongoing encouragement, as well as access to tools and resources to equip and empower students long after the event is over.
Did you know that every day in America:
- Every 2 seconds a student is suspended
- Every 9 seconds a public high school student drops out
- Every 32 seconds a baby is born into poverty
- Every 47 seconds a child is abused or neglected
- Every 8 minutes a child is arrest for a violent offense
- Every 3 hours and 15 minutes a firearm kills a child or teen
- Every 4-and-a-half hours a young person commits suicide
The ministries of SportsWorld are in our schools every week making a difference in the lives of students.
According to the latest published data from the U.S. Department of Education, there are over 50 million students attending public and private schools in the country. Out of that number, about 35 million youth participate in sports. Athletics is a great forum to teach our children that there are consequences for their choices that affect not only themselves, but their teammates, friends and family.
The sports industry has a powerful influence on our youth. Professional athletes are looked up to as heroes to our youth, setting an example of not only how to play your sport well, but what choice to make in life. Student athletes are viewed in much the same way in our schools, reaching their peers both positively and negatively.
The goal of the SportsWorld ministries is to have a presence on every available school campus. In the past two years alone, SportsWorld has reached over 500,000 youth at campuses, camps and other events throughout our communities. SportsWorld accepted the challenge to reach 266,000 students in 2016, and plan to reach a total of 2.5 million students by 2021, impacting more campuses and students for Christ than ever before.
Do you want to help SportsWorld reach their goal? Monetary donations are always welcome, but volunteers are also needed! Please visit their website to see how you can help the Sports World ministries reach the youth in all of our communities.
Here are a few photos from the past Saturday’s event:
(Descriptions of SportsWorld ministries and statistcs taken from the 2017 SportsWorld banquet program.)