Dick's Mourns the End of Youth Sports in Cinematic Spot for Its Foundation

But there is hope, says Anomaly's appeal

Imagine: You're a high-school athlete busting your ass for the team. You wake up every day at dawn for a run, hit the weight room three times a week, and put in an extra hour at practice. Oh, and you keep your grades up, too. 

Some might call it a sacrifice. But you dream of winning championships. Sports isn't just something you like to do. It's an essential part of who you are. 

Then, one day, your coach shuffles dejectedly into the locker room holding a letter that just arrived. 

"To whom it may concern," the missive begins, "due to budget shortfalls…"

And just like that, all your hard work feels like a waste of time, and your mood slides deep into darkness… 

… because there's no money left to fund the program. That's the end of your team and your dream.

This sad scenario plays out in an affecting cinéma vérité style spot from Dick's Sporting Goods, ad agency Anomaly and Superprime director Ben Quinn.

Thankfully, this game heads into overtime. Near the spot's conclusion, young athletes send out a message of their own: "To whom it may concern, every kid deserves a chance to play."

Breaking nationwide this Sunday, along with digital and social support, the commercial promotes the Dick's Sporting Goods Foundation's Sports Matter program, and asks viewers to "Help us help them" through donations. Sports Matter provides equipment, uniforms and funding for programs in need nationwide, and the goal is to give 1 million kids the chance to play by 2024. 

Customers can support the cause in Dick's stores, at sportsmatter.org, by texting "SPORTS" to 20222, or through a special button on Facebook. Through Sept. 13, the sporting-goods retailer will match up to $1 million in donations.

It's a savvy marketing move, tapping into an issue of concern for Dick's customers, while giving kids a fresh chance to participate in activities that can build teamwork, responsibility and character. 

What's more, Dick's has pledged $25,000 in support to the Fairfield Preparatory High School athletic department. Members of the school's various teams appear in the ad which was shot in nearby Birmingham, Ala. 

In fact, all the kids in the ad are local youths, imbuing the film with heartfelt authenticity. It packs the same kind of emotional punch as many of Dick's other high-profile efforts, such as "The Table," which won the Film Grand Clio at this year's Clio Sports Awards. 

"All over America, in the communities that need it most, fewer sports team are being offered, fields are being neglected, and kids are left with little to no resources to play sports," says Ed Plummer, the company's CMO. "This campaign provides a powerful reminder that a big issue remains, and we are partnering with the communities we serve to help provide much needed funding and solutions." 

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David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is senior editor at Clio Awards.