Where it all began
Like many of us, I grew up playing multiple sports and loved every minute of it. But as a youth and high school athlete, I didn’t realize what made me love sports so much. Of course, I enjoyed playing, working hard, doing something physical, and most importantly, competing and winning. But there’s something more to it than that, and it wasn’t until several years later when the lightbulb went off in my head.
In May of 2010, the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Boston Bruins in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series. They won the series 4-3 and made NHL history by becoming only the 3rd team ever to come back from 3 games to none deficit. And not only that, but they also came back from 3 goals down in game 7, on the road, against one of their biggest and historical rivals. I attended the game with my girlfriend (now wife), brother, and a couple of good friends. The stadium was only about a third full and the boos and groans got louder and louder after each subsequent Bruins’ goal. Typical Philadelphia- do all of this work to come back in the series and then blow it in game 7. But the rest is history. The Flyers tied it up and then scored the game-winning goal in the third to make it 4-3. And this was hands down the best sporting event I’ve ever attended. Oh, and we were also in Philadelphia, watching on the glob a-tron (the game was played in Boston), in a practically empty stadium. Seems unlikely that my most memorable sporting event was one I didn’t play in, without live players in front of us, and not in a full and raucous stadium. So what made this so special? It’s the people around you and the feeling of comradery and belonging. Sports, unlike most everything else in the world, makes me feel like I am a part of something special and bigger than myself. It creates an unparalleled energy.
So it was that night in 2010 that I realized why I loved playing so much. Whether you are playing in the NHL, or in a pickup game with neighborhood friends, sports bring people together for a common goal. Now….what if we can harness that energy and do something truly meaningful? Something that can really make an impact on the people around you for the better. Welcome to The Ambition Project.
An Era of Momentum
Fortunately, we are in an era full of momentum. Volunteering and giving have surged with the emergence of the pandemic. According to Giving USA 2021: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year, 2020, total charitable giving grew by 5.1% over 2019. This represents 2.3% of the U.S. GDP. This is an opportunity to capitalize and take advantage of our global need to understand and help each other.
As athletes, we all have the unique understanding of what it takes to develop as a team, work hard, help each other, and lead others in the face of adversity. The bad news is that only roughly 30% of the population volunteers with the lowest percentage coming from the 20-24 age bracket (these are rough estimates based on the 2018 census data). Put another way 70% of the population isn’t volunteering and the younger age bracket, the future of our world, isn’t as involved as they could be. When we consider the magnitude of people who need our help, it simply isn’t enough. Take the hunger crisis as an example- 10% of households experience food insecurity and 1 in eight families with children can’t buy enough food for their families (frac.org/hunger-poverty-america). And this is just one issue that facing our extremely complex society. It’s time for us to be the change and start a movement.
A Call to Action
Yes, The Ambition Project is only a ten-week program, but it is also a call to action. As a high school athlete, you have the ability, know-how, and opportunity to take your experience and lead others through a lifetime of giving and empathy. Use your athletic ability in a meaningful way….to make a truly lasting impact on the lives of others.