By Webb Wright, NY Reporter

February 16, 2022 | 3 min read

Sports – and exercise more generally – can open the door to a wide range of physical, psychological, social and professional benefits. But many young athletes, especially those belonging to historically marginalized groups, are often unable to access athletic programs. Gatorade has launched a new campaign to change that.

Gatorade wants to build a future in which sports are more inclusive and accessible to all. Today, the leading sports drink brand announced ‘Fuel Tomorrow,’ a new initiative aimed at breaking down some of the social and economic barriers that have long prevented many young people from participating in sports. This is just the latest in a string of efforts from Gatorade to empower young athletes and make the athletic community as a whole more equitable and inclusive.

In the promotion of the new campaign – the first under new chief marketing officer Kalen Thornton – Gatorade is quick to point out that the benefits of exercise go far beyond physical health. “Playing sports can improve an athlete’s chances of succeeding in school [and] going to college, and provide other long-term benefits such as lower levels of depression, higher self-esteem and more productivity at work,” the company said in a statement. “Yet, there are significant barriers that prevent many kids, especially girls, those from low-income backgrounds and Black, Brown and LGBTQ+ youth, from playing sports.”

Many of those barriers obviously have deep and tangled historical roots, and are therefore unlikely to be fully resolved overnight or with a single campaign. But with its new campaign, Gatorade has provided a three-pronged approach that could theoretically make real headway in making it easier for young people coming from historically marginalized groups to tap into their nascent athletic potential – “resourcing community programs that help kids play in a safe, welcoming environment,” “providing access to sports facilities, equipment and transportation” and “training coaches on how to be champions for equity and inclusion.”

The news of the initiative is accompanied by a 60-second video spot, which features Damien Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers), Candace Parker (Chicago Sky) and 11-year-old basketball prodigy Isabella ‘Izzy’ Escribano. The video will premiere during this year’s NBA All-Star Weekend “with on-the-ground efforts to support the local Cleveland community.”

This is not the first campaign from Gatorade aimed at making sports more accessible to athletes of all backgrounds. In 2017, for example, it launched its Player of the Year program, which, according to the company, has resulted in “more than $3m to organizations whose missions are to keep athletes in the game.” Last year, the brand created its Women’s Advisory Board, with the goal of breaking down “specific barriers female athletes face.” Earlier this month, Gatorade signed a historic endorsement deal with Shedeur Sanders – quarterback at Jackson State University and son of NFL legend Deion Sanders – making him the first college athlete representing a historically Black college and university (HBCU) to profit from his name, image and likeness (NIL).

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