COMMUNITY REPORT: A city where no one is left on the sidelines

By Mayor Eric Garcetti

Contributing Columnis

We got some good news, Los Angeles. Not only are the Rams going to the Super Bowl, but they will be playing, and hopefully winning, right here in our own backyard.

This is exactly what we need right now: a reason to cheer and feel proud.

And here’s the thing about L.A.: we’re a great sports town. We’re home to almost a dozen professional sports teams. We’ve taken home championship trophies in baseball, basketball, ice hockey, soccer and women’s basketball while I’ve been mayor. And now we’re preparing to host not just Super Bowl LVI, but some of the biggest sporting events of the next few years.

Like the College Football Playoff National Championship Game in 2023 … the World Cup in 2026 … and, of course, the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2028.

This will be our third time hosting the Olympics — so we know how inspiring and beneficial they can be for our city. The 1984 Olympics connected us to each other and generated a surplus that led to the creation of the LA84 Foundation, which has given almost 4 million young Angelenos access to sports programs.

The 1984 Games set the bar high. And we’re going to raise it, lifting up children and families across our city — and not just for two and a half weeks, but for a generation, starting right now.

We are going to make L.A. the healthiest city in America, and a place where every child can participate in sports. Thanks to a $160 million investment from LA 2028, every child between the ages of 5 and 17 in our city will have an opportunity to participate in low-cost, or no-cost, quality sports programming in their neighborhood.

We launched PlayLA in November with a $9.6 million grant from the LA28 Games to the city Parks Department to subsidize participation fees throughout the school year for leagues, classes and clinics for sports, including tennis, golf, basketball, soccer, judo and aquatics.

And, for the first time in our city’s youth sports programming, PlayLA is offering adaptive sports programs for kids with physical disabilities, including sitting volleyball, adaptive swimming, wheelchair basketball and more.

It’s clear why we’re doing this: Every child deserves a chance to play and gain the confidence and social skills that come from participating in sports and recreation. And every child in this city deserves opportunities to chase their dreams.

PlayLA could produce the next great Olympian or Paralympian, who could compete in their own backyard in 2028. We know it’s possible. Just consider the legacy of LA84, which transformed the lives of so many Angelenos, and nurtured world-class athletes.

Think of Venus and Serena Williams, who discovered tennis at courts in Compton built with profits from the 1984 Games … or Russell Westbrook, who first started perfecting his jump shot at a Boys and Girls Club in South L.A.

The Games are an incredible opportunity for us to shape the future we want to see of a strong, healthy and inclusive city. That’s why, in 2028, we’ll show the world a great sports city where every child has a place on the field, on the court and in the pool.

Mayor Eric Garcetti’s “Community Report” column runs monthly in The Wave.