As Young Athletes Struggle To Compete During Pandemic, Under Armour Makes Sure They Can Still Play Responsibly
The Company and Its Athlete Partners Will Donate More Than 35,000 Innovative Performance Masks to Young Athletes to Get Them Back Training Amid Cancelled or Delayed Sports Seasons
Coronavirus may have shut down competition for young athletes, but Under Armour wants to ensure they can still play.
That’s why this fall, the company is continuing to invest in young athletes and providing them with a performance mask – a training necessity in today’s pandemic environment that often runs a higher price than generic masks currently in the market and may be unattainable for many young athletes.
The company announced that, in partnership with pro athletes, it will donate more than 35,000 UA SPORTSMASKs to young athletes dealing with the effects of the pandemic in cities like Oakland, Nashville, Baltimore and others around the world. The UA SPORTSMASK, which launched earlier this summer, is the first to be designed for athletes to train in with innovative technology to keep them cool and comfortable while being active.
Although a mask cannot conquer all the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic for young athletes, Under Armour hopes the donation will help them get back to training and improve their mental health, something many athletes are struggling with as they are still unable to practice or compete.
In fact, a recent study by the University of Wisconsin shows that the inability to play sports during the pandemic has heightened the anxiety and depression of high school athletes. Nearly 70% of those surveyed indicated they had experienced noticeable effects on their mental health due to a lack of sports, an increase of 37 percent prior to COVID.
“They are definitely missing out on the social aspect of athletics,” Baltimore City Public Schools Athletic Director Dana Johnson said of her district’s athletes who happen to reside in Under Armour’s backyard. “There is more to it than just playing sports. It allows young people to develop relationships with those they normally would not socialize with and learn life lessons from being on a team which they are now missing out on.”
Janissa Salazer, a student in Oakland Unified School District, is one of these athletes grappling with cancelled sports seasons, closed practice facilities and gyms, and an unclear path forward as an aspiring young athlete.
“COVID-19 has had a very big impact on me,” said Salazer. “It’s cut down on time on the golf course, where I normally could remain active during the off season and get some swings in.”
Salazer was one of many student athletes in Oakland to receive a mask from Under Armour and Stephen Curry.
Globally, other athletes are partnering on this community impact initiative as well by donating in their own cities, including: boxer Anthony Joshua in London; Taekwondo athlete Jade Jones in Wales; Refugee Olympic Athletes Team swimmer Yusra Mardini in Berlin; and boxer Souleymane Cissokho in Paris. Under Armour is also planning to donate masks to young athletes at schools and community partners in Toronto, Panama, Mexico, Taiwan and Australia.
“This time has given me an opportunity to think about what’s important in life and I’m so thankful for my Under Armour family who has helped me donate masks to refugee athletes here in Germany," said Mardini. "I wanted to give something back to them because, despite their journey, they are still are working to help others by training to be future coaches."
This is just the latest from Under Armour to meet athletes where they are, no matter what circumstances they’re facing.
“As an organization who is relentlessly committed to making equitable access to sport opportunities a reality, we share the responsibility in equipping youth athletes with all the tools they need in order to fully show up to participate,” said Stacey Ullrich, Sr. Director of Global Community Impact at Under Armour.
With this donation, Under Armour continues its mission to invest in young athletes where and when they need it most, building on previous initiatives like Project Rampart, which provides jerseys, sports facilities and off the field support to the next generation of athletes in Baltimore.
For now, that means meeting the needs of those bearing an ongoing pandemic, helping athletes like those in Dana Johnson’s district get back out on the field.
“This donation will let our young student-athletes know they are not in this craziness by themselves,” Johnson said. “That someone besides their coaches are looking out for their well-being on and off the playing field.”