The Aspen Institute Rallies Sports Industry Leaders to Grow Youth Participation with New 63X30 Vision

June 24, 2024

Sports & Society announces a new focus for its national Project Play roundtable of organizations building healthy communities through sports

Contact: Martin Fox
Program Manager, 63X30, Sports & Society Program
The Aspen Institute

Aspen, Colorado, June 24, 2024 – The Aspen Institute issued a call to action today for its network of more than 20,000 leaders engaged with Project Play to get at least 63% of youth playing sports by the end of the decade, meeting the target set by government agencies as a Healthy People 2030 national public health goal. Only 54% of children ages 6-17 in the U.S. played on a team or took lessons in 2022, down from 58% in 2017, according to federal data.

Since 2013, Project Play, the flagship initiative of the Institute’s Sports & Society Program, has provided insights, ideas and opportunities to build healthy children and communities through sports. Now, for the first time, the initiative has adopted an ambitious target for youth sports participation as a catalyst for new actions and investment from the public and private sectors.

“Kids need sports more than ever given the challenges facing them and our society,” said Tom Farrey, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program executive director. “Members of the Project Play network recognize as much, so we’re building the dream team to take the big swing.”

To help reach the 63% target, the Institute will convene and provide backbone support for a roundtable of leading sports, health and philanthropy organizations called 63X30 (pronounced “Sixty-Three by Thirty”). 63X30 partner organizations include: The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation, ESPN, Gatorade, Hospital for Special Surgery, LeagueApps, Little League Baseball and Softball, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, National Basketball Association, National Recreation and Park Association, Nike, PGA of America, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, Stack Sports, TeamSnap, Under Armour, the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee, and U.S. Tennis Association.

Members of the roundtable commit to taking actions that can get and keep more young people playing sports, from creating affordable programs in underserved neighborhoods to promoting multi-sport sampling to developing more coaches to serve children’s needs. The curated group is well-positioned to contribute, with strong networks within the three team sports with the largest youth participation (basketball, baseball/softball, soccer), the top two individual sports (tennis and golf), major brands, top software registration platforms, and leading grant-makers.

The 63X30 national roundtable will build on the work of the Institute’s previous roundtables Project Play 2020 and Project Play 2024. Members of those groups introduced an array of mutually reinforcing activities that supported grassroots organizations. They also partnered to create the How to Coach Kids coach development platform, built the award-winning Don’t Retire Kid awareness campaign, and launched the Children’s Bill of Rights in Sports, a framework endorsed by more than 500 leading organizations, athletes, and government entities.

Members recognize the opportunities to drive progress that lie ahead over the next six years. The United States will serve as host to the 2026 FIFA Men’s World Cup, the 2028 Olympics and Paralympics, and major annual events that can help rally stakeholders around the 63% target. The Institute will help track progress and connect activations of the national roundtable to efforts being made at the state and local levels where it also supports organizations through Project Play.

The mental and physical health benefits of playing sports are profound – benefits that have been denied many youth, whose participation rates have fallen since the pandemic. Reaching 63% participation could deliver more than 1.8 million Quality Years of Life, plus a $80 billion in societal benefits from direct medical costs saved and greater worker productivity, according to a study published in February in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine by researchers from the Institute, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and leading universities.

The 63X30 roundtable was launched today in conjunction with a panel on the topic at the Aspen Ideas Festival and previewed at last month’s Project Play Summit in Baltimore where 640 cross-sector leaders gathered to explore next steps in building healthy children through sports.

“Our role at this table,” Kevin Martinez, ESPN’s Vice President of Corporate Citizenship, said at the Summit, “is to make sure that people are on the same narrative, that they’re talking the same statistics, that they have the same KPIs so we can find where the intersectionality works for whatever brand or program we’re working on, whether it’s mental health or coaching or multi-sport. The fact is that if we can work together, we can help tell that story.”

To learn more about the 63X30 partners, visit


About Project Play

An initiative of the Sports & Society Program of the Aspen Institute, Project Play develops insights, ideas and opportunities to build healthy communities through sports. For more information, visit

About the Aspen Institute

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world.

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