Reimagining School Sports: A New Playbook for High School Sports

Event information
Thu Mar 10, 2022
12:00pm - 1:30pm EST
Washington, DC; Virtual
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Principals and school leaders today are charged with developing the whole student. Many appreciate that sports, broadly defined to include all forms of physical activity, play a key role to help students develop academically, socially, physically and mentally in ways that will benefit them throughout their lives.

But high schools lack the resources – money, staffing and knowledge – to support much of the student body through sports. The current high school sports model, which has not been updated since the enactment of Title IX 50 years ago, focuses on too few students. Progress starts with redefining success. Winning state championships is fine, but more important is growing the percentage of students who play and get developed as people through sports.

In March, the Aspen Institute’s Project Play will release Sport for All, Play for Life: A Playbook to Develop Every Student Through Sports. The report aggregates the best of the ideas we discovered during our Reimagining School Sports project, serving as an aspirational model for local school leaders and others to help drive systems-level progress.

Join us March 10 for our free, online event to explore these ideas with leading national and local experts about what’s possible. Speakers include Karissa Niehoff, executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations, and others to be announced.

Register here


Why Reimagining School Sports Matters
Principals and leaders must put in place a set of aligned strategies and tactics to bring a new model to life – one that’s tailored to the interests of its students and assets of its community. As schools grapple with changes to high school sports due to COVID-19 and a more commercialized landscape, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program Executive Director Tom Farrey and National Federation of State High School Athletic Association Executive Director Karissa Niehoff discuss why the time is now to reimagine the model.

8 Strategies to Build a New Model
Project Play’s strategies (“Plays”) identified in the playbook aggregate some of the best ideas we found that we hope school leaders find useful. Tom Farrey presents the eight plays and speaks with national and local experts on why each strategy is important and how to put them into practice.

  • Play 1: Align School Sports with School Mission
  • Play 2: Understand Your Student Population
  • Play 3: Create Personal Physical Activity Plans
  • Play 4: Introduce Other Forms of Play
  • Play 5: Develop Community Partnerships
  • Play 6: Bolster Coaching Education
  • Play 7: Prioritize Health and Safety
  • Play 8: Measure and Evaluate Programs

Tap the Power of Non-Discrimination
Creating systems-level progress for high school sports requires applying a non-discrimination filter. Title IX and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 opened doors for students from underrepresented groups by establishing that rights must be honored in the delivery of sport activities. Neither of these efforts has been perfectly executed. But the core idea that underpins each – that it’s not OK to discriminate in the provision of education-based sports – provides a foundation to build a better model for addressing gaps in access to sports. Learn what good implementation looks like by focusing on non-discrimination in high school sports.