The Chicago Fire are on the hunt for the first trophy in 12 years, but they could win an important one next month.
Chicago have been nominated as a finalist for an ESPY in the category of Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year. 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.
The award will be handed out on July 17 at an event at LA Live. 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 Fire are competing against the Anaheim Ducks, Boston Red Sox and US women's national ice hockey team for the award.