Today, the Seattle Mariners, Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Sounders FC, Seattle Storm, and NHL Seattle have joined with the King County Play Equity Coalition to support and improve equitable access to safe, fun physical activity for all King County youth (“play equity”). The efforts mark a strong and strategic partnership among the region’s professional sports teams as they join with other public and private stakeholders to promote play equity across King County and ultimately bolster individual and community health and advancement.
Seattle’s professional sports teams have begun to collaborate on strategies to make sports and physical activities more accessible to kids across King County. Announcements of joint efforts are expected in the coming months.
This announcement follows today’s release of State of Play Seattle-King County, a comprehensive landscape analysis of regional trends, barriers and opportunities related to youth participation in sport, physical activity, and outdoor recreation. The report was released by the University of Washington Center for Leadership in Athletics, King County Parks and the Aspen Institute in conjunction with other community partners.
The King County Play Equity Coalition is a newly formed entity stemming from the collaborative State of Play Seattle-King County research efforts. The goal of the coalition is to increase the rates of King County youth meeting the CDC’s Physical Activity Guidelines through policies, programs, research and information-sharing, so all youth have access to the social, emotional and physical benefits of movement through sports, play and outdoor recreation.
“The Seattle Mariners believe that all young people should have the opportunity to play baseball, softball and other sports regardless of the barriers they may face. Unfortunately, that is not the case today. We are glad to have played a role in this effort to better understand barriers to access and now look forward to developing strategies to expand youth access to sports and recreation,” said John Stanton, Chairman & Managing Partner of the Seattle Mariners.
“Inspiring kids to play, whether for love of the game, the chance to compete or for the powerful benefits of physical activity, that’s a huge priority for our organization,” said Jeff Richards, Seahawks Vice President of Marketing & Community Engagement. “We are proud to come together with the local professional sports teams in this region to draw awareness to the importance of youth sports in our community.”
“At NHL Seattle we believe access to youth sports should be a right, not a privilege. Advancing equity in youth sports participation will be a key objective in NHL Seattle’s social impact work, and we are excited to move this effort forward in partnership with our fellow pro sports teams and our community,” said Mari Horita, NHL Seattle Vice President of Community Engagement and Philanthropy, and member of the Play Equity Coalition Advisory Board.
“The State of Play results show us that our city has a great deal of room for improvement. We are growing rapidly, and it’s vital that during that process we account for spaces where our community can move freely, dream big and play without limitations,” said Sounders FC President of Business Operations Peter Tomozawa. “Through our club's work with the RAVE Foundation and building mini pitches and small fields throughout King County, we know how impactful these efforts can be. Today we are proud to stand alongside our colleagues at the Seattle pro clubs to form a strategic partnership, as we collectively work to support play equity across our community.”
“Ensuring access to sports for young people in our community is a core part of our mission at the Seattle Storm organization. We recognize the importance of creating inclusive, equitable opportunities for kids to play and learn while taking into account the diverse set of barriers faced by our community members in King County. We are excited to collaborate with the other pro sports organizations in Seattle and the King County Play Equity Coalition to further our shared goals,” said Alisha Valavanis, CEO & General Manager of the Seattle Storm and Force 10 Sports Management.
EXISTING TEAM EFFORTS
Seattle professional sports teams have long focused on efforts to make sports and physical activities accessible to youth in the community.
Seattle Mariners – On BASE
In 2018 the Mariners launched On BASE, a comprehensive youth baseball and softball initiative supporting young athletes ages 5-18. On BASE supports a network of coaches, athletes, and community members who collaborate together to increase access to safe, competitive, and positive playing experiences for young athletes across the Pacific Northwest.
In addition to existing youth baseball and softball programs, On BASE encompasses a variety of new efforts across the Northwest to address challenges young athletes face in their communities. On BASE provides grants for baseball and softball teams, training opportunities for youth coaches and young athletes, financial assistance to those who are not able to afford the cost to play, and more.
Seattle Seahawks – Empowering Youth
The Seahawks seek to use the organization’s unique platform and relationship with the region to empower youth to realize their full potential – both in their lives today and as they dream about what they may pursue in the future. Through programs, initiatives, events and strategic partnerships, the Seahawks aim to educate, empower and encourage youth, with the goal of contributing to a better tomorrow for our communities and to build long-lasting relationships with the future of our fan base.
The Seahawks also support youth aspiration to play the game of football by encouraging and celebrating a broad range of local youth football communities including NFL Flag, youth tackle and high school football programs. Support includes programs, grants and initiatives that drive safe play, sound fundamentals and meaningful character development with both youth participants and the communities of coaches, parents and others who support them.
Sounders FC – RAVE Foundation
RAVE Foundation, the official charitable arm of Sounders FC, was founded in 2013 to serve the greater Puget Sound community. RAVE Foundation’s mission is to build small fields for free play and invest in programs that use soccer as a vehicle to inspire youth and strengthen communities. By building small fields, RAVE Foundation helps remove barriers to participation, providing a place for kids to play freely, be physically active and safe, and to be inclusive stakeholders in their communities.
RAVE Foundation opened its flagship small field at Yesler Terrace Park in the heart of Seattle in 2018, kicking off the foundation’s “RAVE Fields” program, which is dedicated to opening both mini-pitch futsal courts and small soccer fields throughout the region. Field locations are chosen in an effort to support underserved communities and to provide locations for free play, as the fields may not be rented by groups or teams and must remain open for all at all times. In 2019, Sounders FC and RAVE Foundation have opened a mini pitch at SeaTac’s Valley Ridge Park, with a second planned at Seattle’s Roxhill Elementary this fall. Additional small fields and mini pitches are planned for 2020 and beyond.
Seattle Storm – StormFit
At the core of the Seattle Storm is the promotion of an active and healthy lifestyle. The Storm actively inspires through StormFit, one of the Starting 5 pillars of StormCares. This fitness program for kids and teens develops lifelong fans of the game of basketball - and good health - through camps, clinics, and open community practices. StormFit has provided unique opportunities for youth across the Puget Sound to join Storm players in on-court drills and competitions. The Storm offers basketball clinics and community practices each year that are free to the community and inclusive of all ages and abilities
STATE OF PLAY SEATTLE-KING COUNTY