For Immediate Release: May 10, 2023

Kelly Cannon
O: 816-395-3711

Shut Out the Stigma KANSAS CITY, MO. (May 10, 2023)—An estimated 52 percent of youth between the ages of six to 17 years of age participate in sports. Roughly 27.4 million kids go out and compete, face a win or a loss, face a great game or a disappointing performance, and regardless of the outcome they then climb in the vehicle with a parent or guardian for that car ride home.

What happens in those minutes after the game can make or break many young athletes' self-confidence or build them up to be successful in sports and life.

“Young athletes who experience high external and internal pressures to perform, including pressures from parents and coaches, are more likely to burn out and develop behavioral health conditions,” said Dr. Greg Sweat, Senior Vice President and Chief Health Officer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC). “This risk is exacerbated if the child only plays one sport. Coupled with the fact that 50 percent of lifelong mental health conditions begin by the age of 14, we need to realize the way we talk to our kids about sports can influence success and long-term happiness.”

This is why the Kansas City Royals are happy to be teaming up with Blue KC to Shut out the Stigma. Shut Out the Stigma is an initiative aimed at educating parents and guardians on the pressure their kids feel while playing sports and in life. The goal is to open the door to those hard conversations.

“When I was a younger father and coach, it was very difficult to find positives in losing performances. I was very much a transactionally driven parent and coach,” said Tony Snethen, Vice President of Brand Innovation & Agency Lead for Pine Tar Collective, which is part of the Kansas City Royals. “The most eye-opening lesson I’ve learned throughout this project is how aware our children are of everything we do and say. Our actions, good or bad, are imprinted instantly into their minds. With that in mind, what do we want the long-lasting ripple effect of our parenting to be?”

To launch this effort for change, the media is invited to the Mid-America Sports Complex in Shawnee, Kansas on Wednesday, May 10, 2023 for the unveiling of one of two letters written to parents, guardians, coaches, and all adults in a child’s words. The ten-foot-tall and seven-foot-wide installation bares messages from youth about that car ride home and how what is said in those minutes can impact their emotional well-being. The letters alone took hours to not only create, build, and install, but also required hours of interviews to truly understand the pressure youth feel when competing.

“Through this process, we are wanting the community to understand the importance of a healthy mind and body,” said Snethen. “Unfortunately, we live in a day and age where there is still a stigma around mental health. It’s time for that to end.”

To learn more about this initiative, visit

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, the largest not-for-profit health insurer in Missouri and the only not-for-profit commercial health insurer in Kansas City, has been part of the Kansas City community since 1938. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City provides health coverage services to more than one million residents in the greater Kansas City area, including Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas and 30 counties in Northwest Missouri. Our mission: to provide affordable access to healthcare and to improve the health of our members. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more information on the company, visit its website at

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