According to a new report from Axios, President Trump has appointed New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick to the Presidential Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition, which was created via executive order in February and charged with encouraging kids to play sports. Belichick joins an illustrious but slightly random list of council members, including pro golfer Natalie Gulbis, Olympic beach volleyball gold medalist Misty May-Treanor, and retired Major League Baseball pitcher Mariano Rivera.
Encouraging more kids to take up sports is a goal that Ivanka Trump publically suggested Americans take more seriously after returning from the most recent Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Not too unlike Ivanka’s big push to improve support for American families who require paid family leave, the sports initiative hasn’t really gone anywhere.
Belichick might help. He’s the most respected and feared coach in the NFL and a very practical person. Optics have never been his thing. He is admittedly “not a political person” and also a dad, so there’s some reason to believe he’s genuinely in it to help the kids (though “it” remains somewhat poorly defined). He may also be looking for a way to help Trump. Belichick and Trump have been friendly for years, a fact that has inspired harsh criticism and ire in Massachusetts, the bluest of blue states.
The problem of fewer kids playing youth sports is particularly an issue when it comes to young girls and kids who come from difficult economic backgrounds. In 2008, about 45 percent of kids between the ages of six and twelve played some kind of team sport. In 2017, that number dropped to around 37 percent. And it’s not just about video games being fun. It’s about economics. Kids who come from households that make less than $100,000 are 50 percent more likely to play a team sport than kids who don’t.
A report from the Washington Post suggests that, for a lot of kids, the decision to quit sports comes when it’s “not fun anymore.” If kids are simply struggling to have fun playing sports, it’s not clear precisely what the Trump administration could do to change that other than push for sports to be less competitive, which is unlikely to be popular with the President’s conservative base.
Still, POTUS is on it. He named May “National Physical Fitness and Sports Month,” and plans to host a sports field day on the South Lawn of the White House in the coming months. Grumpy pants Belichick will surely be there.