A Step In The Right Direction: The Positive Effects a Sports Team can have on Public School Education

In addition to their on-court and on-field activities, professional sports teams engage in a wide array of activities in their local communities. Teams spend large portions of their time in hospitals, community centers, schools, and fundraising activities on behalf of those in underserved communities. The number of smiles, new friendships, and changed lives we observe after each of these events makes us confident that most or all of those activities have a huge impact on the people touched by professional sports teams’ community activities. However, we are unaware of any published studies quantifying the impact of teams’ efforts in the community. Step Your Game Up, presented by the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation and the Pagliuca family, and in partnership with the Lawrence, MA school system, seeks to; (a) positively impact the lives of many more children than a player could meaningfully interact with during an afternoon, (b) have a measurable and statistically robust impact, and (c) be scalable to other non-Celtics contexts. Using widely-accepted guidelines, we identified children most at risk of failing in school. We then created a program that provided these at-risk students with incentives, in the form of game tickets and other Celtics-related experiences, to improve both grades and attendance. While the program does not seem to affect attendance, significantly positive effects (both statistically and substantively) were found on participants’ grades in multiple subjects, even when controlling for various confounding factors. During this presentation we will introduce the program, describe the statistical evidence for its impact, and consider the possibilities for other teams to use this type of program.

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