Cutting Sports, Cutting Values


I'm often receiving links to stories about the power of sports. Recently, I saw a story of a high school football team in Michigan who made a secret pact that they would forfeit every scoring opportunity when they got to their opponent’s one-yard line.   They wanted to set up one of their teammates—a child who was labeled as “not cool” because he suffered from a developmental disability—to be in a position where he could successfully carry the football into the end zone and score his first touchdown.  By the end of that game, his teammates had succeeded.  They blocked the opposing team and cleared the way for this “uncool” kid to score a touchdown and be cheered on by the entire community. Afterwards, one of the other high school football players said in tears that he learned lessons from the whole experience that he would take with him for the rest of his life.  He explained that up until that moment he had never thought of anyone but himself.  But that touchdown helped him to realize that life is really not about “you,” it’s about the actions you take for others.


This story about the power of sports led me to ponder…what if every child in this country learned this lesson at a young enough age to guide their entire future?  What kind of impact would that have on our schools, communities, businesses and governments?   Then, I pondered an even more fundamental question…where do children go to even learn these kinds of lessons today?   Unfortunately, the answer to the last question is fewer and fewer places.

Too many children grow up in homes with parents who are overly focused on their own economic and personal problems to worry about their kids.  And too many of our schools are so focused on the test score that the concept of teaching values and ethics is almost nonexistent.

That leaves after-school activities like sports.  Sports programs, like that football program in Michigan, remain the one arena where kids learn to work together with values like teamwork, leadership and compassion.  When they are led in accordance with the Up2Us standards of sports-based youth development, sports impart on young people a sense of community and belonging that does shape their futures.

Which leads me to warn communities, parks, schools and other government officials as they create their 2014 budgets. The elimination of sports programs is the elimination of values.  And these are budget cuts which none of us can afford.

Paul Caccamo Executive Director

NY Jets & Up2Us


Back in August, Up2Us partnered with the NY Jets on a sports equipment drive to take place before every pre-season and regular season game at Metlife Stadium. The Jets Play 60 Sports Equipment Drive benefitting Up2Us gives fans the opportunity to donate new and gently used equipment three hours prior to the start of every home game. All equipment donated will be dispersed to our member organizations in the NY/NJ area. Up2Us has approximately 100 member organizations in the NY/NJ area, all using sports and youth development to improve the lives of youth in underserved communities.

So far Up2Us has seen great support from fans! We’ve collected a number of different sports equipment including baseball bats, helmets, tennis rackets, cleats, and much more!


Examples of accepted items include: Footballs, Soccer balls & goals, Baseball & softball gloves, Volleyballs, Basketballs, Water Coolers, Free weights, Jump ropes For the rest of the season, fans that donate will receive a signed NY Jets football or an official Breast Cancer Awareness Sideline Towel provided by the NY Jets. Items are limited so donate soon!

If you will be attending a Jets game at Metlife Stadium and want to donate equipment, you can find Up2Us between the Pepsi & Bud Light Gates three hours prior to the start of the game.

Remaining games of the 2013-2014 season:

12/1 Miami Dolphins @ 1pm 12/8 Oakland Raiders @ 1pm 12/22 Cleveland Browns @ 1pm *Up2Us will be collecting equipment starting at 10am

If you want to donate equipment but will not be attending a game this year, please email Christy Venable at to find out further details on our equipment donation locations. Thank you to the NY Jets for providing Up2Us with this incredible opportunity and a special thanks to A-1 First Class Moving and Storage.

Click here for more information on our equipment drive.