past event

2017 Project Play Summit


Built around the theme “A New Scoreboard for Sports,” the 2017 Project Play Summit saw organizations make 33 commitments to action to improve youth sports. The nation’s premiere gathering of leaders at the intersection of youth, sport and health sold out for the third straight year and featured more than 400 attendees.

Among the announcements was the roll-out of Project Play 2020, a multi-year effort by more than a dozen leading sport, health, media and other organizations to grow national sport participation rates and related metrics among youth. Project Play 2020 represents the first time that industry and non-profit groups have come together to develop shared goals around making sport accessible to all children, regardless of zip code or ability.

The announcement was lauded on stage by Craig Robinson, New York Knicks senior executive and brother of former First Lady Michelle Obama, who made an appeal at last year’s Project Play Summit for industry to rally to grow sport participation for underserved kids. “It is absolutely amazing how fast that this formidable group got Project Play 2020 off the ground so quickly,” Robinson said.

The Summit expanded to two days of programming for the first time. The event explored alternate ways to measure success through emerging metrics, introduced major new initiatives, and heard from 60+ speakers, including a keynote conversation with Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred.

Manfred highlighted the potential of professional sports leagues, who ordinarily compete with each other, to collaborate in building healthy kids and communities. He specifically pointed to the shared interest in promoting multi-sport play among youth. He said he had spoken with the NBA, NFL and NHL commissioners and they all agreed that the best athlete is a kid who played multiple sports.

“Multiple sports give body parts rest, which is a really important issue in today’s youth participation market,” Manfred said.

Several sessions were live-streamed. The hashtag #ProjectPlay trended nationally on Twitter for the second straight year.

If you missed the Summit, catch up below.

Project Play Summit Wrap-Up: News, Quotes, and More

State of Play in 2017: Reflections from Project Play Summit


Welcome + Opening Remarks   WATCH
Andrea Nielsen, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility, Target

State of Play: 2017   WATCH
Tom Farrey, Executive Director, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program

Ask Kids What They Want   WATCH
Kids: So When Do We Get a Vote?
Dan Hicks, Broadcaster, NBC Sports
Brenton Baker, 9, Buffalo, NY
Nina Locklear, 11, Baltimore, MD
Andrew Ramos, 9, Montgomery Village, MD

Project Play 2020 Announcement   WATCH
Dan Hicks, Broadcaster, NBC Sports
Craig Robinson, Vice President of Player Development, New York Knicks
Don Wright, Acting Assistant Secretary for Health

Reintroduce Free Play   WATCH
From Pokémon Go to Esports: Lessons and Opportunities
Moderator: Jeremy Goldberg, President, LeagueApps
Vikram Grover, Senior Director of Business Development, Niantic (maker of Pokemon Go!)
Chris Kluwe, Former NFL Punter/esports Entrepreneur
Rich Luker, Founder, Luker on Trends
Angela Ruggiero, Co-Founder/Managing Director of Sports Innovation Lab, Hockey Hall of Famer

Emphasize Prevention   WATCH
Preventing Abuse – in All its Forms
Moderator: Mike Wise, Senior Writer/Columnist, The Undefeated
Rick Ankiel, Author, Former Major League Baseball Player
Nekia Kemp, Executive Director, Police Athletic League of Buffalo
Shellie Pfohl, CEO, U.S. Center for SafeSport
Dr. David Satcher, Former U.S. Surgeon General, Co-Chair of National Council on Youth Sports Safety

Design for Development   WATCH
What is Basketball’s Role in Reforming Youth Sports?
Moderator: Karen Crouse, Sports Reporter, The New York Times
Steve Keener, President/CEO, Little League Baseball
David Krichavsky, Vice President of Youth Basketball Development, NBA
Greg Kristof, CEO, Zero Gravity Basketball
Chiney Ogwumike, WNBA player

Revitalize In-Town Leagues  WATCH
Latinos in Soccer: What’s the Model?
Moderator: Alicia McConnell, Director of Training Sites and Community Partners, U.S. Olympic Committee
Lawrence Cann, President/Founder, Street Soccer USA
Ed Garza, President of Urban Soccer Leadership Academy, Former San Antonio Mayor
Chris Moore, CEO, US Youth Soccer
Hugo Salcedo, Director at MaxInMotion, Former U.S. Soccer Olympian


Featured Conversation   WATCH
Rob Manfred, Commissioner, Major League Baseball
Moderator: Terry McDermott, Author, Off-Speed: Baseball, Pitching, and the Art of Deception

State of Play: Mobile County Announcement   WATCH
Rebecca Byrne, President/CEO, Community Foundation of South Alabama
Jake Peavy, Jake Peavy Foundation

Project Play: Harlem Announcement  WATCH
Ranya Bautista, Project Coordinator, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program


Encourage Sport Sampling   WATCH
Golden Opportunity: Bringing Swimming to Minority Communities
Gary Hall Jr., Olympic Gold Medalist in Swimming
Nikki Cobbs, Aquatic Coordinator, Baltimore City Rec & Parks Aquatics Division
Tom Fristoe, Founder/General Manager, TeamUnify
James Nicholson, Board Chairman, YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit
Reece Whitley, 17-Year Old Swimmer, Philadelphia

State of Play: Baltimore Report Announcement   WATCH
Jeff Breslin, Senior Manager, Global Philanthropy, Under Armour

Think Small   WATCH
Bringing Play Spaces to Kids (Not the Other Way Around)
Moderator: Mark Hyman, Author, Until it Hurts: America’s Obsession with Youth Sports and How it Harms Our Kids
Theresa Lou Bowick, Executive Director, Conkey Cruisers
Ed Foster-Simeon, President/CEO, U.S. Soccer Foundation
Mike Lanza, Author, Playborhood: Turn Your Neighborhood into a Place for Play
Kevin O’Hara, Vice President of Urban and Government Affairs, National Recreation and Park Association

Train All Coaches   WATCH
What’s Fair for Parents to Ask of Coaches?
Moderator: Rebecca Lowe, Broadcaster, NBC Sports
Alan Ashley, Chief of Sport Performance, United States Olympic Committee
Michelle Mundey, Facility Director, Dept. of Parks and Recreation, Prince George’s County + Mom of E’Jai (12) and Neiko Primus (Nation’s Top-Ranked, 9-Year-Old Basketball Player)
Harold Reynolds, MLB Network Broadcaster and Former MLB Player
Steve Stenersen, CEO, U.S. Lacrosse

The $15B+ Youth Sports Economy: What’s in it and Where’s it Headed?   WATCH
Moderator: Sean Gregory, reporter, TIME Magazine
Tom Cove, CEO, Sports & Fitness Industry Association
Susan Eustis, President, WinterGreen Research
Dev Pathik, CEO, Sports Facilities Advisory | Sports Facilities Management


Physical Activity Break
Emily Roske, 10, November Project / Bus Stop Project
Claire Vachon, 11, Walled Lake, MI

Call for Leadership Introduction   WATCH
Chris Watts, Executive Director, National Fitness Foundation

Collaboration Nation: What’s Possible When Silos Connect for Kids?   WATCH
Moderator: Tom Farrey, Executive Director, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program
Beth Baran, Co-Executive Director, Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation
David Egner, President/CEO, The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation
Caitlin Morris, General Manager of Global Community Impact, Nike
Louis Shapiro, President/CEO, Hospital for Special Surgery
Gary Zenkel, President, NBC Olympics and President, Business, NBC Sports Group

What’s Your Play? Introduction   WATCH
Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, CEO, Laureus Sport for Good Foundation USA
Risa Isard, Program Manager, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program

What’s Your Play? Announcements   WATCH
Organizations are honored for their new work in youth sports

The Best Sports Town in America   WATCH
Karen Crouse, author, Norwich: One Tiny Vermont Town’s Secret to Happiness and Excellence
Moderator: Jon Solomon, Editorial Director, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program

Closing Remarks   WATCH
Darrin Steele, CEO, USA Bobsled and Skeleton

Summit Recap

View Summit photos

Project Play Summit Wrap-Up: News, Quotes, and More

Introducing Project Play 2020

7 charts show why youth sports need to be fixed

Parent Checklists: Questions to ask to build an athlete for life 

Summit Media Coverage

What’s lost when only rich kids play sports? (The Atlantic)

Sports stakeholders join forces to stem decline in sports participation (Sports Business Journal)

Latinos in soccer: What’s the U.S. model so they’re not left behind? (Aspen Institute)

Declining participation, rising costs, untrained coaches (The Washington Post)

No one is asking Baltimore youth what sports they want to play (The Undefeated)

Group aims to help Baltimore fill youth recreation gaps (The Baltimore Sun)

Stayed for Workshop Day? See info here.

Thanks to our sponsors for their support.

Event information
Wed Sep 6, 2017 - Thu Sep 7, 2017
8:00am - 2:45pm EDT
The Newseum's
Knight Conference Center
555 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC