Sports and Citizenship

October 16, 2018  • Daniel R. Porterfield

Aspen Institute President and CEO Dan Porterfield spoke at the Newseum on October 16, 2018 for the Sports & Society Program’s Project Play Summit. Follow him on Twitter @DanPorterfield.

Thank you, Mary, for that kind introduction and for your partnership and the partnership of NBC Sports with the Aspen Institute and Project Play to organize this incredible summit.

Let me join Mary in thanking all our sponsors as well and all of you for joining us. And please join me in thanking the Aspen Institute’s Tom Farrey, Executive Director of our Sports & Society Program, his team, and everyone here at the Newseum for organizing today’s summit.

I love the mission and work of the Sports & Society Program and Project Play to build healthy communities through sport by breaking down barriers to access to recreation, developing and distributing critical information about how to build healthy sports programs and cultures, and working at the local level to create a culture of sport always with a mindset toward health and wellness.

I believe that such work is essential not only for the Aspen Institute—but for all sectors of our society.

It is crucial that a strong society be good at the things that parents and families need and value.

For example:

The best societies are good at promoting security and safety.

The best societies are good at promoting education and opportunity.

The best societies are good at promoting clean air and water and at preserving the environment.

And the best societies are good at promoting and developing a culture of sports, athleticism, and recreation in their young people—all young people, not just the children of privilege.

We want all our young people to play and be active. We also want the systems that we build to provide these opportunities sustainably. We want even more people—from every zip code and across all the supposed divides of difference—to be involved in creating these systems and participating in them.

Participation in sports can be a passport to a successful adulthood:

Sports grow confidence and cross-cultural friendships.

Sports cultivate the qualities of discipline, resilience, and leadership.

Sports emphasize practice, team play, and fair play.

Sports promote health, fitness, and wellness.

Sports broaden horizons and give perspective—we learn that defeat is not death but the chance to compete again.

And, ultimately, we know that sports build citizenship.

By investing in access, equity, and character-formation in youth sports, we emphasize to young people the value of their active participation in society. That’s good for them and good for all of us.

There is no single way to do this. The Aspen Institute and the Sports & Society Program are committed to working with you to think about how we can create a healthy sports culture in our society that embraces and includes all voices and talents. We’re committed to this work in partnership with you, and I can’t wait to see where we go from here.

Thank you again for being here.

Now, I’m pleased to introduce Tom Farrey, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society Program.