Tennessee Seeks to Transform the “Win-at-all-Costs” Sports Culture


The InSideOut Initiative launches in Tennessee in partnership with Tennessee Titans, NFL Foundation, Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA), Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS), Tennessee Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (TIAAA), Tennessee School Board Association (TSBA), and Tennessee Athletic Coaches Association (TACA).

The InSideOut Initiative—a nonprofit aimed at transforming the “win-at-all-costs” sports culture in communities across the country—will launch soon in Tennessee.

Sports engage more individuals, families, and communities in a shared experience than any other cultural activity, organization or religion. Three out of four American families with school-aged children will have at least one child play an organized sport— approximately 45 million children.

However, youth sports has evolved into a $15 billion industry that promotes early specialization, private one-on-one coaching, multi-team layered participation and a significant financial and emotional investment by parents. Less than 3% of high school athletes will go on to play college athletics and only a fraction of those—less than 1%—will ever play professionally. If the value of youth sports comes solely from winning, then millions of kids lose out on the potential for a life-changing human growth experience.

“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 InSideOut Initiative co-founder and executive director, Jody Redman. “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.”

Powered by the NFL Foundation and piloted in Colorado and Texas in 2015, the InSideOut Initiative catalyzes partnerships with educational leaders, state athletic associations and local NFL teams to address the brokenness of the sports culture and engages stakeholders in strategic conversations to re-define the role of interscholastic sports in the lives of students and communities. The program has spread to NFL markets in California, Indiana and Ohio.

“As a professional sports franchise, we find it our responsibility to proactively safeguard the integrity and values which makes sport a fundamental part of our culture. For this reason we are proud to be involved in the launch of the InSideOut Initiative in Tennessee,” said Steve Underwood, President, Tennessee Titans and Nissan Stadium. “We know that sports at the grassroots level shape the future of an athlete, and we are committed to building a foundation of fairness, respect and dignity for every student-athlete in our state.”

Tennessee will be the next state to launch this Initiative, thanks to comprehensive funding from the National Football League Foundation. The TSSAA has helped develop a steering committee comprised of representatives from educational and athletic organizations to discuss the initiative and plan for its implementation.

“The TSSAA is very excited and grateful to be involved with the InSideOut Initiative,” stated Bernard Childress, Executive Director of TSSAA. “Education-based athletics is vitally important to the students and schools across Tennessee. This initiative will help to maintain athletics in its proper perspective by creating a culture that moves beyond defining success by the scoreboard and creates space for a higher purpose.”

“The fact that there are so many people involved, from Superintendents, school administrators, and school board members, shows how educators across the state value the goals and mission of the InSideOut Initiative,” added Childress. “This would not be possible without the support for this program from the NFL Foundation and the Tennessee Titans, and for that we are very appreciative.”

For sports to provide students with the human growth and moral development opportunities they deserve, we must move beyond defining success by the scoreboard and create space in the culture for a higher purpose. Tennessee is committed to creating that space, starting now.