Sports and Society Program
Sports and Society Program
The Aspen Institute's Project Play: Reimagining Youth Sports in America
ESPN's John Walsh talks with Craig Robinson, Oregon State men's basketball
coach, about the role of coaches in keeping kids involved in sports.
The Aspen Institute’s Project Play is a two-year thought exercise that will lay the foundation for the nation to introduce more children to an early positive experience in sports, with a focus on addressing the epidemic of physical inactivity and needs of public health. The Sports & Society Program convenes sport, policy and other leaders in a series of events designed to identify breakthrough strategies, and will develop a game plan to help stakeholders—from parents to policymakers, mayors to sport leaders—create “Sport for All, Play for Life” communities.
Why: Adolescents who play sports are eight times more likely to be active as young adults than adolescents who do not play sports. Yet in some U.S. communities, only 1 in 5 kids play sports. Access is limited for the child from the low-income area, the under-resourced school and the single-parent home, as well as the kid with physical or intellectual disabilities. In more affluent areas, youth sports has grown – but brought with it concerns about concussions, overuse injuries and burnout. How do we get kids off the couch without running them into the ground?
Events: Project Play launched in April 2013 at a four-day summit of 80 high-level sport, health and other leaders in Aspen, Colo. More than 80 leaders from key stakeholder groups joined U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun, Google senior executive David Drummond, ESPN executive editor John Walsh, college basketball coach Craig Robinson and athletes including Michelle Kwan in considering the barriers to sport participation and opportunities for progress.
Subsequently, the project engaged thought leaders in a one-day roundtable in New York on Sept. 4 on the topic of, “Early Positive Experiences: What is Age-Appropriate?” The meeting considered the prospects of anchoring the disjointed U.S. sport system in the principles of age-appropriate play. It was the first of four roundtables that will lead to a new vision for youth sport coaching across the U.S. The next roundtable in the series is Nov. 20 in Colorado Springs, Colo., “Kid Friendly, Coach Driven: What Training is Needed?” where coaching leaders will consider the areas in which coaches working with children ages 6-14 should be knowledgeable.
In addition, Sports & Society director Tom Farrey is hosting a series of “Aspen Timeouts,” speaking engagements, one-on-one conversations or small panels co-hosted at the major gatherings of stakeholder organizations on topics that inform the work of Project Play. The most recent was a conversation with NBA All-Star Chris Paul on what’s fair to ask of athletes in improving the lives of children and communities; the conversation was hosted at the Los Angeles studios of ESPN, which ran a package of content on its platforms in October.
Partners: Underwriting the project’s final report in late 2014 will be the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation’s largest foundation dedicated to public health. Other project partners include ESPN, Nike, the David & Lucile Packard Foundation, and the Clinton Foundation, which will recognize action pledges made by organizations acting on ideas explored in Project Play.
Contact – Andrea Cernich, firstname.lastname@example.org, 610-763-0919