Professional Athletes Persuade Young Fans Not to Smoke

From 1995 to 2002, the Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation, Jacksonville, Fla., and the Jacksonville Jaguars football team ran an array of projects to discourage smoking among fans and area youth.

In 1998, the Institute for Child Health Policy located at the University of Florida, Gainesville, carried out an assessment of the project.

The team used stadium signage and public address announcements during games to present antismoking messages to fans and incorporated similar messages in many of its publicity and community outreach efforts.

It also required local youths participating in its Honor Rows Youth Incentive Program, which awards free seats at Jaguars games to youth who meet certain academic, behavioral and public service goals, to sign a pledge not to use tobacco, alcohol or other drugs.

The Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation also collaborated with RWJF to develop the Sports Philanthropy Project (ID# 038221), designed to improve the practice of philanthropy by professional sports teams.

Key Findings

  • The assessment of the Honor Rows program found that:

    • A ticket to a Jaguars home football game is a powerful incentive for youth.
    • Because the youth participants earn their tickets, successful completion of the Honor Rows program helps them gain self-confidence and see their own potential.
    • The game day experience is of primary importance to the youth participants.
    • Honor Rows programs are more likely to be successful if they are well integrated and fully embedded in youth services agencies' broader missions.
    • Although the experience of participating in the Honors Row program is uniformly positive across all youth, there appears to be additional value to older youth who articulate an ability to transfer what they have learned through the program to other areas of their lives.
    • The presence of a caring adult committed to these youth and supportive of their successes is critical to the success of the Honor Rows program.