2018 PLAYS gameday

CHICAGO (June 19, 2018) – ESPN announced Tuesday that the Chicago Fire Soccer Club has been selected as a finalist for the Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year in recognition of the club’s efforts to make a difference in the community, specifically through the Chicago Fire Foundation’s P.L.A.Y.S. Program.

The winners will be announced during the fourth annual Sports Humanitarian Awards, presented by ESPN and sponsored by Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, on Tuesday, July 17 at L.A. LIVE’s The Novo. The event will celebrate the impact made by athletes, teams and sports industry professionals who use the power of sport to make a difference throughout the world.

The Chicago Fire’s P.L.A.Y.S (Participate, Learn, Achieve, Youth, Soccer) Program is helping to change the trajectory of underserved youth in Chicago through innovative and enriching sports-based programming. Recognizing two major voids within the Chicago community, P.L.A.Y.S. was created to address the lack of after-school programming and the need to improve academic performance in Chicago Public Schools. Through a soccer and social and emotional learning (SEL) based curriculum, program participants engage in five out-of-school hours per week over 10 weeks and participate in three game days. P.L.A.Y.S. has engaged more than 2,500 students since the inception of the program in 2013. Research shows a 50% drop in crime near these program spaces. Participants also have had a decrease in behavior infractions, number of disciplinary incidents, unexcused absences, suspensions, and failing grades, among positive impacts in their communities and home life.

P.L.A.Y.S. is the signature program for the Fire Foundation, which was awarded the 2016 Beyond Sport Team of the Year Award as well as the 2015 Robert Wood Johnson Team of the Year Award, in recognition of the group’s outstanding charitable programming efforts.

Also selected as finalists for Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year are the Anaheim Ducks, Boston Red Sox and the U.S. Women’s National Hockey Team.

ESPN will make charitable contributions on behalf of the award nominees. Additionally, the net proceeds of the event will once again benefit the Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund at the V Foundation. Last year, more than $2 million was donated to the community on behalf of the Sports Humanitarian Awards.

The finalists and winners have been determined by an independent selection committee, which includes: Nick Keller, Founder and President of Beyond Sport, Donald Lassere, CEO of the Muhammad Ali Center, Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, CEO of Laureus Sport for Good Foundation USA, Sab Singh, Founder of Sports Doing Good, Caryl Stern, CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF and Eli Wolff, Director of the Power of Sport Lab and the Sport and Society Initiative at Brown University.

Additional information on the Chicago Fire Foundation can be found at www.chicago-fire.com/community.