While it is true that an impressive number of Indiana high school student athletes graduate and move on to play a sport at the collegiate level, very few become “All-Americans.” Additionally, very few get an opportunity to compete professionally. However, all are expected to take their rightful place as a productive member of society.
By their very nature, high school athletics already are designed to teach life lessons that foster stronger, more vibrant communities. Personal discipline, respect for authority, responsibility to others, the development of leadership skills, and role model opportunities, all of which are essential parts of being a student-athlete. The combination of these traits plays an important role in teenagers’ development into active, responsible citizens.
And now, thanks to a new partnership between the IHSAA and the Indianapolis Colts, added emphasis is being placed on the importance of community service as well.
This week, every high school football team in Indiana (a total of 318) is receiving an invitation to compete for what some might consider an award as coveted as a state championship. We call it the IHSAA Blue Horseshoe Award, and it will be presented to the high school football team in Indiana that completes what a panel of judges deem as “the best” community service project during this coming off-season.
Every high school that fields a football team, regardless of its size, will have an equal opportunity to compete and an equal opportunity to win. Teams that have not enjoyed great success on the gridiron this season can still be crowned a champion. Lessons learned on the field can be implemented in the community. And most importantly of all, every student who participates will have the opportunity to experience the satisfaction that goes along with helping others.
This is a landmark program in two significant ways. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time a professional sports team has become the corporate partner of a state high school athletic association. So hats off to the Indianapolis Colts. And we also believe the IHSAA Blue Horseshoe Award is the first state-wide community service project ever sanctioned by a high school athletic association.
When you do the math, the possibilities are staggering. If all 318 high school varsity football teams in Indiana commit to a service project in their home communities that requires a mere two hours of time per player, assuming team sizes average approximately 60 teenagers each, communities in our state would benefit from a combined total of over 38,000 hours of productivity. And this doesn’t take into account projects that require more time to complete or the projects that include junior varsity and freshman squads.
The IHSAA Blue Horseshoe Award is a program where everyone is a winner. It’s about preparing high school students to be “good Americans” as well as good football players. And it helps us all understand the positive things that can be accomplished through corporate partnerships.
You might say it’s a touchdown, home run, and a three-point shot all rolled into one.
Commissioner of the IHSAA