New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram Jr., who played with the Crimson Tide and won the Heisman in 2009, helps promote financial literacy at Calera High School in Shelby County on Friday, Jan. 24, 2014, during a statewide kickoff campaign for a video game called Financial Football developed by Visa and promoted by Regions Bank. (Martin J. Reed / [email protected])
CALERA, Alabama — Former Crimson Tide running back and 2009 Heisman winner Mark Ingram Jr. brought his football skills to Calera High School this morning for a lesson that combined sports and financial education.
Ingram led a group of Calera students in a match against a similar team coached by Alabama State Treasurer Young Boozer during a round of Financial Football, a video game developed by Visa and promoted by Regions Bank that helps to educate students about financial literacy.
“I think financial education is very important, especially at a young age,” Ingram told the few dozen students gathered in the school’s media center this morning for the game’s statewide campaign kickoff event.
“I learned a lot about financial education as a young man because my father played NFL as well,” said Ingram, who plays with the New Orleans Saints. “He made some mistakes investing his money. … He’s incarcerated in a federal prison right now.”
Ingram wanted students not to make similar mistakes with their finances. “I learned how to save money at a young age. I learned how to budget money at a young age,” he said. “I’m still learning today.”
Ingram and Boozer joined the campaign involving Visa, Regions Bank and the public schools in Shelby County and throughout Alabama to promote the education tool that combines football with answering questions about personal finance issues to advance the ball and score.
The game will be available to Alabama’s public middle and high schools, Boozer said, noting that anyone can access it online at www.treasury.alabama.gov. The financial lessons learned are important for people of all ages, he emphasized.
“Shelby County is one of the leaders in the state of Alabama in promoting financial literacy” in schools, Boozer told the crowd.
Shelby County Superintendent Randy Fuller before the start of the program said the district’s Board of Education approved a financial literacy course for students in past years before the state followed and required it as part of the curriculum.
“Now we have career-preparedness coupled with financial literacy that is required in the state,” Fuller said. “It’s very positive to have the support of different organizations in financial literacy.”
New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram, who played with the Crimson Tide and won the Heisman in 2009, sits with Alabama State Treasurer Young Boozer during an event to promote financial literacy at Calera High School in Shelby County on Friday, Jan. 24, 2014. (Martin J. Reed / [email protected])
Regions Bank South Region President John Turner told students that by understanding budgeting, borrowing money and credit at an early age, “you learn life skills that will carry you a very long way.”
With the Saints as Ingram’s team and the Atlanta Falcons under Boozer’s leadership, students answered questions about inflation, appreciation, interest rates and the consequences of late payments on credit cards and not balancing checking accounts.
The final score: Falcons 15, Saints 8. For the organizers, though, everyone was a winner.
Financial literacy is about “being able to manage our money wisely,” said Frank Thomas III, a 16-year-old junior. “I believe it’s important because if you don’t manage it wisely, the next thing you know it’s all gone.”
Evan Karr, 17, said the lessons learned are important. “When you turn into an adult, you’re going to have to use this every day,” he said about understanding finance. “You get it now, you can start practicing your skills now.”
Isabella Powell, a 17-year-old junior who works at the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover, wants to know more about personal finance. “I think I’m OK at it. I think I can be better,” she said.
“It will definitely help me in the future,” she said, grateful about the opportunity to learn. “I think it’s a privilege to ask us to come here and do this.”