USA Football Launches Campaign “Play Football … it’s more than a game”

(Philadelphia, Pa) — I maybe dating myself, but growing up in the suburbs of Philadelphia I can still vividly remember baseball being our favorite sport to watch and play at pick-up time.  Everyone wanted to emulate Mike Schmidt, the Big Red Machine, Reggie Jackson, and a host of other heroes.  Baseball soon gave way to playing basketball on the blacktop as everyone wanted to play “Rough House” or pick-up to emulate burgeoning basketball stars Julius “Dr. J” Erving, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and then of course the undisputed king of hoops his Airness Michael Jordan.

However clearly my kids when they grow up more than likely will be football enthusiasts.  The simple reason for their future sport to “love” being football doesn’t just lie in the fact that their Father is a football writer, Thank You very much… No their decision will probably stem from the fact that the National Football League (NFL) is the league of choice around the United States by far over the three other majors (baseball, basketball, and hockey). 

One just has to look at the television ratings to show that “America’s Game” is the NFL.  In 2007, more than 226 Million Americans watched NFL games with those on broadcast TV (CBS, FOX and NBC) averaging 16.6 million viewers (up three percent from 2005). Plus on cable, NFL games on ESPN averaged 11.2 million viewers and 4.6 million viewers on NFL Network.  There is no denying that the NFL has the best product despite CBA issues, rookie salaries, player’s off the field issues or a myriad of other public hot buttons.

But the NFL also markets itself better than any of the other three major sports and one of their initiatives is to have kids play the game in their youth and hopefully become fans later in life as a result.  With the NFL’s assistance USA Football, the sport’s national governing body on youth and amateur levels, was established in 2002 from an endowment from the NFL and NFL Players Association.  USA Football chaired by former AFL quarterback and U.S Congressman Jack Kemp  hosts more than 100 training events annually, offers education programs for coaches and game officials as well as skill development for young players plus awards over $500,000 dollars in equipment grants yearly.

This year USA Football in conjunction with the NFL has launched it’s campaign “Play Football … it’s more than a game” to promote the benefits and timeless values of America’s favorite sport to more than 100 million fans.  The goal is to instill the spirit, leadership skills, and fun of football to youth in hopes that skills learned on the gridiron will equate to life lessons. 

Serving as “Play Football” spokespeople are former NFL All-Stars Boomer Esiason and Rod Woodson, both of whom are “Football Dads” with children currently playing the sport on the youth or high school levels.  Through its “I Played” public service announcement, USA Football will feature six everyday professionals in their respective work environments united by the leadership and strong character traits they gained by playing football.  The “I Played” television message also invites viewers to to share memories of playing football and how the game has enriched them as people.

Though I never became my hero Randall Cunningham on the football field – flamed out as the captain of my championship college intramural team — I can truly say playing sports including football taught me life lessons of persistence, competition, preparation, hard work, camaraderie, and fun.  So I encourage everyone including kids and adults to support USA Football as we all know football is truly “America’s Game”.



Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)


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