Amazon, ESPN, NHL, USTA Join Project Play 2020, an Aspen Institute-Led Initiative

May 29, 2018

Latest participation data shows some progress across youth sports

Washington, DC, May 29, 2018
 – Leading organizations from the technology, media and sport sectors have joined Project Play 2020, a national initiative mobilizing industry and foundations to take next steps in growing sport participation and related metrics among youth, the Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program announced today. The new members are Amazon, ESPN, National Hockey League, and U.S. Tennis Association, which complete the set of 20 organizations at the center of the effort.

Project Play 2020 builds on the work of the Aspen Institute’s Project Play, which since 2013 has provided a venue for leaders to build healthy communities through sports. Members commit to developing new, specific, mutually-reinforcing actions consistent with the vision and framework of the Project Play report, Sport for All, Play for Life: A Playbook to Get Every Kid in the Game, which identifies eight strategies for the eight sectors that touch the lives of children through age 12.

Since the release of that report in 2015, hundreds of organizations have taken solo actions shaped by or aligned with the framework. The latest participation data shows progress is being made in many sports. Among 6- to 12-year-olds over the past three years, the percentage of children playing in any form at least once during the year has grown in most major sports, including baseball, basketball, ice hockey, gymnastics, swimming and tennis, according to 2017 data provided to the Aspen Institute by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), which commissions an annual household survey.

However, the percentage of kids who were completely sedentary – i.e., no sport activity of any type during 2017 – continued to rise among children from the lowest-income homes, with more than three in 10 engaging in no sport activity.

“More work needs to be done to make sport in America accessible to all children, regardless of zip code or ability,” said Tom Farrey, executive director of the Sports & Society Program. “No one organization or even sector can do this alone, so the leadership of the new Project Play 2020 members is important.”

For an analysis of the latest data, see Farrey’s story here on youth sports participation trends and his Q&A with SFIA CEO Tom Cove here. A deeper dive and other insights will be published in the Aspen Institute’s annual State of Play report, to be released at the 2018 Project Play Summit, Oct. 16 at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Registration for the Summit opens June 25. (Sign up here to be notified of event and other program updates).

Project Play 2020 was launched at last year’s Project Play Summit as a vehicle to drive the next stage of progress. In addition to mutually-reinforcing actions, members set annual priorities tied to one or more of the report’s strategies, or “plays,” that lead to shared actions. First-year priorities are Encourage Sport Sampling and Train All Coaches, which will produce resources that can encourage multi-sport play and improve the quality of youth coaches.

“Project Play is a true catalyst for change, bringing the entire sports industry together for the benefit of our youth,” said Kevin Martinez, vice president of ESPN Corporate Citizenship. “We’re proud to be part of the collective group that will bring access to sports, and the many benefits of sports, to kids across the country.”

“We are honored to join the Aspen Institute’s Project Play initiative, together with like-minded organizations who have shared values,” said Kim Davis, NHL Executive Vice President, Social Impact, Growth and Legislative Affairs. “We understand the power of collective action through our role with Hockey’s Declaration of Principles — uniting 17 of hockey’s governing bodies to affirm our shared beliefs and values — and look forward to this partnership to grow youth sports participation.”

The founding members of Project Play 2020 announced last year are NBC Sports Group, Nike, Target, National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation, U.S. Olympic Committee, Hospital for Special Surgery, PGA of America, Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, New York Road Runners, National Fitness Foundation, American College of Sports Medicine, Sports Facilities Advisory, Global Obesity Prevention Center at Johns Hopkins University, and SFIA.

For more information on Project Play 2020, please visit

Contact: Jon Solomon, Editorial Director, Sports & Society Program | 205 572 2907

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit

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