Encourage Sport Sampling: Taking Next Steps

Since launch in 2013, Project Play has been a national leader in establishing the benefits of multi-sport play and addressing the trend of early specialization that can heap undue pressure on children and unsustainable costs on families. “Encourage Sport Sampling” was one of the eight strategies identified in our seminal playbook on how to get and keep kids active through sports, and in 2015 more than 40 organizations — from national governing bodies to the professional leagues, media companies to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation — endorsed multi-sport play through age 12, at a minimum.

In 2018, we took next steps, working with the Association of Chief Executives for Sport (ACES) to help national sport organizations develop more policies and partnerships that are supportive of sport sampling. It’s a key step, as it is difficult for any one organization to find success on its own. In today’s youth sports arms race, telling kids to play other sports can feel like an act of unilateral disarmament.

ACES distributed a nine-question Project Play checklist for National Sport Organizations to advance sport sampling — a key priority of the Project Play 2020 advisory group and a core concept of the U.S. Olympic Committee’s American Development Model — and encouraged members to participate.

Over the next year, Project Play will work with those organizations, and others as they are added, to check more boxes. As a result of this commitment, ACES was honored as a Project Play Champion at the 2018 Project Play Summit.

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Project Play Bobsled

At the 2017 Project Play Summit, USA Bobsled & Skeleton provided a Sport for All, Play for Life bobsled that is currently active on the professional racing circuit.

The commitment was announced by Darrin Steele, CEO of USA Bobsled & Skeleton, which created a bobsled with the Project Play logo and tagline, Sport for All, Play for Life. That bobsled, seen here at the 2017 Project Play Summit, is currently used for racing on the bobsled professional circuit.

Below is a current list of organizations participating in our sport sampling initiative, and the boxes they check on our checklist:

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 Interested in how your national sport organization can participate in this program? Contact Emily Stets (emily.stets@aspeninstitute.org and 202-464-4320) for more information.

More REsources

Encourage Sport Sampling: How to Use the World’s First Healthy Sport Index

Released in October 2018, the Healthy Sport Index offers recommendations on complimentary sports for health promotion as well as skill development, along with an assessment of the health-related benefits of playing the most popular sports. This panel from the Project Play Summit explores how to use the data-driven resource. Companion content: Healthy Sport Index website and TIME coverage.


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As part of Project Play 2020, the Aspen Institute Sports & Society program partnered with a top ad agency, Arnold Worldwide, to create assets that organizations can use on their platforms to promote sport sampling. If your organization would like to use the digital banner at left, please contact Emily Stets (contact information above).

If you would like to use this graphic in your digital media, please contact Emily Stets (emily.stets@aspeninstitute.org and 202-464-4320).