Recently, NIRSA signed its name in support of three new initiatives that align with our values. The first is a letter, to be shared with the current Presidential campaigns and to later be directed at Congress, calling for increased Center for Disease Control (CDC) funding for physical activity. The second is the Vision for a Healthier America statement, which will put forth public health recommendations for the next administration and congress forum. The third is support for the coalition Student Sports Protection Alliance (SPAN), which focuses on protecting college and youth athletes and the integrity of the sports they play.

Funding for Physical Activity

The letter for increased CDC funding for Physical Activity was brought to NIRSA’s attention through our membership in the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity (NCPPA). NCPPA composed the letter in response to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), released September 21, 2016, which contained a study from the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity titled “Physical Inactivity Among Adults Aged 50 Years and Older”. The study found that approximately 31 million adults in this age group (28%) are inactive. The letter asks the next administration and congress to put $120 million towards the CDC to implement a comprehensive physical activity framework, led by the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity (DNPAO).

As NIRSA is concerned with building healthy people and communities infused with lifelong habits of well-being, this statistic resonated with our association’s values. In addition, NIRSA agrees with NCPPA that, across all demographics, US statistics on physical activity are alarming and call for an urgent response. With an election upcoming, now is the time to make a new federal investment in the health of Americans and develop a comprehensive program to promote physical activity in the US.

You too can make your voice heard on this issue. NCPPA has started the hashtag #MoveMoreSaveLives to share efforts and support for increased physical activity.

Vision for a Healthier America

Also through NCPPA, NIRSA was alerted to and signed on to the Vision for a Healthier America statement. This statement is also proactively aimed at the next administration, and it was composed by Trust for America’s Health, a non-profit, non-partisan organization. The group describes itself as “dedicated to saving lives by protecting the health of every community and working to make disease prevention a national priority.” The statement will be formally launched at a public gathering on October 19 in Washington, DC.

Many NIRSA members can attest to the increasing push toward creating a culture of integrated wellness on campus. This culture focuses on proactive, holistic approaches to health and wellness, as well as reaching out to the entire campus community, including historically underserved populations. This trend is echoed throughout the Vision statement, which asserts: “There has never been a better opportunity to shift the paradigm from a system that treats people after they become sick to a true healthcare system, focused on keeping people healthier in the first place, while also lowering healthcare costs and increasing productivity.”

Student Sports Protection Alliance

The Student Sports Protection Alliance (SPAN) is a relatively new coalition that focuses on protecting college, high school, and youth athletes and the integrity of the sports they play. Specifically, they are focusing on the effects fantasy sports could have on amateur athletes.

As SPAN’s Executive Director explains in “Why isn’t fantasy football more popular in the college ranks?”: “College and pro games and players are not the same. Collegiate athletes live among and are readily accessible to

[peers and] the general public…for collegiate athletes to be the subject of gaming (even fantasy sports) could potentially grossly affect the integrity of collegiate games… and subject these athletes to unfair pressure or undue influence because of their accessibility, susceptibility, or lack of knowledge or financial resources to say ‘no.’” As SPAN acknowledges through its inclusion of youth sports into its scope, it is certainly not only varsity athletes who could be at risk.

SPAN seeks to reach out to state policymakers to educate and urge them to carve college, high school, and youth athletes and student sporting events out of any expanding gaming or Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) rules. DFS related legislation has been introduced in 36 states in 2016—overall 106 bills have been introduced. Provisions prohibiting betting on student sports have been enacted in eight states: Colorado, Indiana, Massachusetts (via regulation), Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee.

Executive Communications, Advocacy, and External Affairs at

Erin O’Sullivan is currently the NIRSA Executive Communications, Advocacy, and External Affairs.