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: State Treasurer Ken MIller, former OU and current NFL player Ryan Broyles, and Nat Sillin of Visa Inc. watch a demonstration of Financial Football, a video game to help student learn basic financial skills. The three announced release of the game in the State Treasurer's Office at the State Capitol on Wednesday morning. Photo by : Travis Caperton, Capitol Photographer.
: State Treasurer Ken MIller, former OU and current NFL player Ryan Broyles, and Nat Sillin of Visa Inc. watch a demonstration of Financial Football, a video game to help student learn basic financial skills. The three announced release of the game in the State Treasurer’s Office at the State Capitol on Wednesday morning. Photo by : Travis Caperton, Capitol Photographer.

What do professional football player Ryan Broyles of the Detroit Lions; the office of Oklahoma Treasurer Ken Miller; and the Oklahoma Coalition for Financial Literacy have in common?

The combined effort of the three is educating children and young adults on fiscal responsibility. The means to reach and teach money to kids include the recent launch of a finance-based video game and the continuation and Oklahoma growth of the national financial literacy program – Jump$tart Coalition.

Large-scale negative economic trends impact everyone, and perhaps few are as vulnerable to financial mistakes as high school and college-age youth overwhelmed by new responsibilities. According to Jump$tart survey findings, one in three U.S. high school seniors have credit cards, and this number jumps to more than half of all American youth holding credit cards by the age of 19.

Cognizant of these pervasive economic realities, Broyles – a native of Oklahoma City with a $3.6 million-per-year National Football League contract – made a conscious decision to live considerably below his financial means by sticking to a $60,000 per year budget. He’s also using his celebrity status to inform youth both by example and by advocating a video game geared to financial literacy.

“Kids need to learn to make smart money management decisions early in life,” says Broyles. “It takes the combined efforts of parents, teacher and mentors within the community to give teenagers a strong background in personal finance.”

Financial Football is a great way to get students interested in personal finances and gives them a financial playbook they can use the rest of their lives.”

“Ryan came to us to promote the Financial Football video game and to share his story with kids about having to take care of his money,” says Tim Allen of the Oklahoma Treasurer Department of Communication. “When Ryan is asked about buying a fancy car when he got his NFL contract, he tells the kids he still has the Mazda he did in college and that his big splurge was a Tempur-Pedic mattress.”

Broyles, the Treasurer’s Office and the Oklahoma Council on Economic Education, launched Financial Football in March with help from a partnership with Visa Inc. The game puts players’ fiscal knowledge to the test in an online simulation football game environment by combining the structure and rules of the NFL with financial education questions of varying difficulty. The free educational game and classroom curriculum were developed by both the NFL and Visa and is being distributed to every public and middle and high school in 46 states, including Oklahoma and the District of Columbia.

“Financial Football is a great way to get students interested in personal finances and gives them a financial playbook they can use the rest of their lives,” says Oklahoma Treasurer Ken Miller.

“Managing money is much more complex than checking your account balance and avoiding overdraft fees,” says Melissa Neal, president of Oklahoma Jump$tart Coalition. “It is important to teach students about the significance of their personal finances and spending decisions.”

“The silver lining to our country’s economic conditions just may be that we place a greater emphasis on financial education, which does our country well for many generations,” says Laura Levine, executive director of the national office for Jump$tart Coalition, in a televised report.

Financial Football is available free online at Oklahoma.financialfootball.com and is also available from Visa as a free iPhone app on iTunes, along with an optimized HD iPad version.

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