A Sporting Chance

October 18, 2017  • Sports & Society Program

The goal is simple: build healthy children and communities by growing sports and physical-activity rates among youth. But getting there is difficult. Sports and activity rates among American kids under 12 are currently either stagnant or in decline—and always at risk of falling further. All children need access to a quality sports activity regardless of their zip code, ability, or gender. That’s why the Sports & Society Program’s Project Play initiative is collaborating with 18 partners—including the US Olympic Committee, Nike, and Major League Baseball—for Project Play 2020. No one organization can fix youth sports on its own. Now, by working together, no one organization needs to.

Rate of Play

Participating in sports can be a complicated maze for children, parents, and coaches to navigate. The Institute’s Sports & Society Program tracks youth sports participation and physical-activity rates through Project Play.

Lacrosse participation increased 17.5%
— in 2016, the fastest-growing sport among 6- to 12-year-olds.

24.8% of kids aged 6-12 are considered active at a healthy level and beyond
— down almost 4 percentage points since 2011.

42 rec centers remain in Baltimore
— down from more than 130 in the 1980s.