The NFL Network announced a new initiative this week to improve and maintain physical education programs at schools across the nation. Not to mix sports metaphors, but it’s about time someone stepped up to the plate with a children’s health project that might actually accomplish something.
We’ve been saying for years that kids aren’t getting enough exercise, and we couldn’t be more pleased to see pro football doing something to get them excited about sports. The Keep Gym In School program will refurbish school gyms, supply athletic equipment, and improve training for phys-ed teachers. Additionally, the NFL will award a $10,000 grant to a school in need of a better P.E. department.
Football stars like Kurt Warner, Deuce McAllister, and Antwaan Randle El have signed on to get students pumped up about exercise, which studies have demonstrated is the best way to combat childhood weight gain. Missing in the NFL promotion is any mention of banning bake sales, turning French fries into contraband, or making Starburst the new Forbidden Fruit. And that’s a good thing.
A well-known sports drink is co-sponsoring the program, but history has shown that food cops like the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) aren’t too interested in letting kids have anything beyond water. CSPI’s Michael Jacobson once opined that he’d like to get rid of Gatorade and diet soft drinks completely. Even if they’re being provided as refreshments to physically active children.
We hope CSPI will leave well enough alone (for once) and join us in applauding this effort to do something meaningful to directly address childhood inactivity. Unlike countless exercises in activist finger wagging, this one could … go … all … the … way!