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The Shaquille O’Neal Foundation Launches Grant Program to Help Student Athletes Get Game Ready As They Navigate COVID-19

The financial toll of the coronavirus pandemic has many youth athletics programs grappling with drastically reduced budgets and increased expenses stemming from new safety regulations. To help support student athletes The Shaquille O’Neal Foundation is teaming up with longtime Shaquille O’Neal partner Icy Hot® to launch Get Game Ready, an initiative to help high school athletics programs financially burdened by the pandemic. Through its Get Game Ready program, the Shaquille O’Neal Foundation will issue grants to supply financial aid to school sports programs in need and provide additional support via campaign partner, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA), whose members will offer expert guidance aimed at reducing the risk of injuries among high school athletes and mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

COVID-19 has massively disrupted almost every aspect of people’s lives, including high school sports, which came to a grinding halt and saw entire seasons canceled. The ensuing economic fallout has forced many schools to drastically cut the budgets of their athletics programs, which now face additional challenges and operating costs due to new personal protective equipment (PPE) mandates and stringent safety and hygiene practices and protocols required to reactivate sports activities.

“Sports are a lifeline for student athletes and help build a sense of community,” Shaquille O’Neal said. “That’s why I am proud to partner with Icy Hot and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association to help struggling high schools get their athletics programs back up and running and supply students with necessary protective gear and equipment, when the time is right.”

To help fund Get Game Ready grants, Icy Hot will donate $1 to The Shaquille O’Neal Foundation for every box of Icy Hot sold. U.S. public high schools with a Title I designation needing assistance for their athletics programs are welcome to apply. Grant recipients will be able to use the money to purchase much-needed gear and PPE.

“The health and safety of every student athlete is paramount, especially as the country navigates sports during COVID-19,” NATA President Tory Lindley, MA, ATC, said. “As school sports resume, many students will have to adjust to intense levels of activity after months of being out of play, so it will be more important than ever to have the support of skilled athletic trainers who can help reduce the risk of injuries and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

According to a recent survey conducted by youth sports marketing company LeagueSide, almost half (49%) of parents believe the current challenging circumstances and financial barriers will make their children less likely to participate in youth sports this academic year, which could leave nearly 20 million kids on the sidelines and potentially facing new physical, mental and social challenges stemming from isolation and inactivity. The Shaquille O’Neal Foundation hopes that high schools will be able to use the Get Game Ready grants to ensure they have what they need as programs begin to start back up.

It can be devastating for athletes when they aren’t able to play the sports they love. That’s why Shaquille O’Neal has been partnering with Icy Hot for years to promote responsible pain management. COVID-19 has stymied youth athletic activities across the country and Icy Hot doesn’t want lack of resources to be a reason why kids can’t go back to sports as coronavirus restrictions are lifted.


Photo Credit: lev radin / Shutterstock.com

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