Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Super Bowl XLI Week Kicks Off With a Game of 'Financial Football'

Visa USA Monday announced it is releasing a free, first-of-its-kind cell phone game that helps teens learn how to manage money wisely. Developed in conjunction with the NFL and PLAYERS INC, "Financial Football" equips parents with an innovative tool to help their children learn important financial life lessons.

"Cell phones are the screen of choice for today's teenagers and parents know all too well just how much time their children spend talking, texting and playing games on their cells," said Michael Rolnick, director, Visa USA. "Creating a financial management cell phone game allows parents and educators to harness the popularity of the cell phone and put it to good use in teaching the vital life skill of money management."

Demonstrating the connection teenagers have with their cell phones and the growing popularity of gaming on mobile devices, a new study of parents released by Visa USA shows that 38% of teenagers play a cell phone game more than once a week. The survey also showed that 10% of teenagers are "super cell gamers," playing games on their cell phone five times a day or more.

Sprint and Cingular customers can access the game by texting the word VISA to 24421. Unlike many other cell phone games, which can cost up to $20, Visa is not charging a fee to download "Financial Football." Additional information on the game is available at http://www.practicalmoneyskills.com/CellFootball.

Before being developed for cell phones, "Financial Football" already scored points with parents, teachers and teenagers as a computer-based video game. At the Super Bowl XLI NFL Media Center, Visa USA was joined by New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Miami Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown to help coach students from Miami Beach High School in a game of "Financial Football."

"It takes the combined efforts of parents, teachers, and mentors within the community to give young adults a strong background in personal financial management," said New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees. "A few months ago, I joined Visa in bringing this message to students in Louisiana. Now I have the chance to coach another game of 'Financial Football' here in Miami and to tell these students how imperative it will be for them to learn how to make good, smart, informed money decisions, as they plan for college and beyond."

"Teaching the fundamentals of money management in school gives young people a real advantage in today's financially diverse society," said Ronnie Brown of the hometown Miami Dolphins. "I'm glad for the opportunity to teach these Miami Beach students how to manage their money because it is such a vital life skill."

"Financial Football" puts students' fiscal knowledge to the test by combining the structure and rules of the NFL with financial education questions of varying difficulty. To score points, a player needs to answer various money management questions correctly. Wrong answers and penalties can cost a player yardage.

The free, computer-based version of "Financial Football" has already been downloaded and played over 100,000 times. The game and corresponding financial education curriculum are the centerpiece of a major educational initiative, now in its second season, between Visa, the NFL and PLAYERS INC, to get young people engaged and excited about their financial futures.

In addition to being a game, "Financial Football" is also part of a one- week, five-part financial literacy program designed for high school instruction. In December, Visa teamed up with West Virginia State Treasurer John D. Perdue to announce the first-ever statewide roll out of "Financial Football" that brings the computer-based game to every high school and library in the state. West Virginia is one of a growing number of states making financial education a mandatory high school graduation requirement.

"Financial Football" is part of Practical Money Skills for Life (http://www.practicalmoneyskills.com/), a comprehensive financial literacy program -- available in English, Spanish and Chinese -- that teaches young adults personal finance skills.

This free, educational resource provides teachers with lesson plans (kindergarten through college) mapped to their state education requirements. For students, there are interactive games and calculators designed to teach responsibility and important concepts such as earning, saving and budgeting money.

"As part of Visa's longstanding commitment to financial education, we are constantly developing new and creative ways to get students to learn how to budget, invest and save for their futures," said Rolnick. "Cell phones are the perfect way to reach teenagers and have them learn about financial responsibility."

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