All Events

Project Play explores and shares breakthrough ideas at three types of public events: Summits for large gatherings, deep-dive roundtables with thought leaders, and keynotes or panels held at major conferences of stakeholder organizations. Project Play also partners with organizations that hold public events.

north American Society for Sport Management (NASSM) Conference

June 5-9, 2018

The NASSM Conference provides the leading venue for presentation and discussion of research into sport management, marketing, and policy in all its forms. This year's conference will take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada from June 5-9. For more information or to register, go to:


north Carolina high school athletic association student leadership conference

March 24, 2018

Jon Solomon, Editorial Director for Aspen Institute's Sports & Society Program, will speak about youth sports health issues at the association's annual conference for North Carolina high school athletes.

More info


community foundation of south Alabama luncheon

March 23, 2018

The Community Foundation of South Alabama will hold its Annual Luncheon on Friday, March 23. The luncheon will take place at the Renaissance Riverview Plaza Hotel from 11:30 am -1:00 pm CT. This is a community-wide event with over 500 attendees, including community leaders, business men and women, nonprofit leaders, and elected officials.

The Foundation is engaged in an initiative for all of our kids to reach their full potential. Guest speaker Jon Solomon, Editorial Director for Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society Program and former national college football reporter at, will address how play leads to opportunity.

More info



TLC Summit

December 11, 2017

The Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program released its State of Play: 2017 report at the TLC Summit in Aberdeen, Maryland. Editorial Director Jon Solomon spoke in a session called Big Issues Expert Panel about trends in the $15 billion youth sports market. Also on the panel were: ex-Washington Redskins player LaVar Arrington, Leveling the Playing Field's Max Levitt, YSC Sports' Gabby Roe, Maryland Sports Authority's Terry Hasseltine, and GTM Hanes CEO Dave Dreiling. The panel was moderated by Ripken Baseball Communications Director John Maroon.



state of play: southeast michigan

December 4-7, 2017

Various Locations in Michigan

On the heels of the release of State of Play: Southeast Michigan, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan partnered with Project Play and the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation to host three, large public meetings across the region. The meetings were an opportunity for the community to learn more about the details of the findings, provide input and reactions to the recommendations, and generate ideas for success.

We invited you to choose a location that works best for you:

December 4: Macomb Community College 11:30 am*–2 pm

December 6: Suburban Collection/Oakland County 8:30*–11 am

December 7: Outdoor Adventure Center 8:30*–11 am
*Check-in began 30 minutes prior to the start time of each event

Free and open to the public. Registration was required.

Contact: Emily Armstrong,


state of play: western new york

November 28-30, 2017

Various Locations in New York

On the heels of the release of State of Play: Western New York, the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo partnered with Project Play and the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation to host three, large public meetings across the region. The meetings were an opportunity for the community to learn more about the details of the findings, provide input and reactions to the recommendations, and generate ideas for success.

We invited you to choose a location that works best for you:

November 28: Holiday Valley Lodge, Ellicottville, NY | 5*–7:30 pm

November 29: The Dale Association, Lockport, NY | 5*–7:30 pm

November 30: WNED-TV Studios, Buffalo, NY | 12*–2:30 pm

*Check-in began 30 minutes prior to the start time of each event

Free and open to the public. Registration was required.

Contact: Emily Armstrong,


2017 project play summit

September 6-7, 2017

Newseum, Washington, DC

Over the past three years, the Project Play Summit has taken its place as the nation’s premier gathering for leaders at the intersection of youth, sports, and health. From Michelle Obama to Billie Jean King, grassroots innovators to foundation chiefs, media executives to policy wonks, the event has helped to take measure of, and push forward, the movement to build healthy communities through sports.

Our theme in 2017 was “A New Scoreboard for Sports.” We explored alternate ways to measure success through emerging metrics, introduced major new initiatives, and heard from 60+ speakers, including a keynote conversation with Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred.

The Summit, which sold out for the third straight year, had 400+ attendees and expanded to two days of programming for the first time. #ProjectPlay trended nationally on Twitter. Organizations made 33 commitments to action, including Project Play 2020, a multi-year effort by more than a dozen leading sport, health, media and other organizations to grow national sport participation rates and related metrics among youth. See the agenda and speakers from Day 1.

Did you miss the 2017 Summit? Catch up here.

2017 Project Play Summit Recap

Watch sessions from the summit

View Summit photos

Project Play Summit wrap-up: News, quotes and more

Introducing Project Play 2020

7 charts show why youth sports need to be fixed

Parent Checklists: Questions to ask to build an athlete for life


Project Play Summit Media Coverage

What’s lost when only rich kids play sports? (The Atlantic)

Sports stakeholders join forces to stem decline in sports participation (Sports Business Journal)

Latinos in soccer: What’s the U.S. model so they’re not left behind? (Aspen Institute)

Declining participation, rising costs, untrained coaches (The Washington Post)

No one is asking Baltimore youth what sports they want to play (The Undefeated)

Group aims to help Baltimore fill youth recreation gaps (The Baltimore Sun)

project play: baltimore huddle

June 22, 2017

Imagine if every child in East Baltimore had a chance to play sports. To know the camaraderie of a team, the feeling of a game-winning shot, or the perseverance to shave seconds off a personal best. To experience all the benefits – physical, social, emotional, cognitive, individual – available to people who simply move their bodies on a regular basis. To have a childhood that is playful. 

On June 22, 80+ leaders and stakeholders from across East Baltimore convened at the UA House to explore the forthcoming report, State of Play: Baltimore. The first research of its kind in East Baltimore, the report identifies key strengths and areas of opportunities to get local youth more active, healthy through sport.

For more information, please email Andre Fountain at

2017 Project Play: Baltimore Huddle
Thursday, June 22 @ UA House at Fayette
12 PM – 5:15 PM


12:00 PM  Doors open

12:30 PM  Welcome remarks

12:45 PM  Keynote Speaker

1:00 PM    State of Play: Baltimore findings

  • Big Picture – key stats from surveys
  • Play 1: Ask Kids What They Want
  • Play 2: Reintroduce Free Play
  • Play 3: Encourage Sport Sampling

1:40 PM    Grade State of Play in East Baltimore

1:50 PM    Break

2:00 PM    State of Play: Baltimore findings

  • Play 4: Revitalize In-Town Leagues
  • Play 5: Think Small
  • Play 6: Train All Coaches
  • Play 7: Design for Development
  • Play 8: Emphasize Prevention

2:40 PM    Grade State of Play in East Baltimore

3:00 PM    Ideas: Breakouts sessions

  • Community Recreation Groups
  • National Sport Organizations
  • Business & Industry
  • Tech & Media
  • Policymakers & Civic Leaders
  • Education
  • Public Health
  • Parents

4:20 PM     Ideas: Report-out

4:30 PM     Game Changer: Children & Youth Fund Panel

5:00 PM     Closing Remarks

5:15 PM     Conclude


Project aims to create quality youth sports programs in Baltimore

By Yvonne Wenger, The Baltimore Sun


2017 nassm conference

May 30-June 3, 2017

Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program Executive Director Tom Farrey delivered the keynote address at the 2017 national conference of the North American Society for Sport Management, which supports and assists professionals working in the fields of sports, leisure and recreation. The purpose of NASSM is to promote, stimulate, and encourage study, research, scholarly writing, and professional development in the area of sport management. Topics of interest to NASSM members include sport marketing, future directions in management, employment perspective, management competencies, leadership, sport and the law, personnel management, facility management, organizational structures, fundraising, and conflict resolution. Tom delivered his keynote on June 2, 2017.


project play: Baltimore community night

March 15, 2017

Four years ago, the Aspen Institute launched Project Play, an initiative to provide leaders with the guidance to help sport build healthy communities. Now, Under Armour and other community leaders are bringing Project Play to Baltimore. The goal: with teamwork, expand the quality and quantity of sport experiences for local youth so they can receive all of the associated physical, mental and social-emotional benefits.   

Join us to learn about how your organizations can play a role in – and benefit from – the initiative.

Project Play: Baltimore Community Night

Wed. March 15, 2017 | 7-8:30 pm

UA House @ Fayette | 1100 E. Fayette St.

Light refreshments will be served

Contact: Andre Fountain 



SXSW: Raising the 21st Century Athlete

March 12, 2017

Knowledge about the best practices in raising young athletes is constantly evolving. At this SXSW panel, Sports & Society Executive Director Tom Farrey joined Matt Bowers, Clinical Assistant Professor of Sport Management, University of Texas at Austin; Christine Bolger, Associate Director of Coaching Education, United States Olympic Committee; and Emmanuel Acho, NFL Linebacker/Media Personality to share the latest advancements in the science and policies in youth sports. The goal: to help parents (and those interested in youth sports) navigate the maze of new information on raising good athletes and good kids.


conversation with adam silver

January 31, 2017

The mission of the Aspen Institute is to foster values-based leadership and explore big ideas that serve the common good. So what does values-based leadership mean to NBA commissioner Adam Silver? And what ideas has he developed in his first two years as the head of organization that has engaged on social issues, while developing new partnerships with media companies and players?

Tom Farrey, executive director for the Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program and an Emmy award-winning journalist, explored that terrain in conversation with Silver, ranked the most influential executive in sports by the SportsBusiness Journal. The discussion was open to members of the Aspen Institute’s Society of Fellows group, on a first-come basis.

More event information was here.


Getting Mexico Moving Through Sports

January 27, 2017

In partnership with Aspen Institute Mexico, Nike, and the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, Project Play hosted its debut international roundtable in Mexico City.

Bringing together 50+ leaders from business, government, and NGOs, at the intersection of youth, sport, and health, Project Play explored the opportunity to launch a symbiotic effort in Mexico.

For more information in English, email Risa Isard ( For more information in Spanish, email Mariana Solano (


En conjunto con el Aspen Institute México, Nike, y Laureus, Project Play tuvo su debut internacional en la Ciudad de México con una mesa redonda.

Reuniendo alrededor de 50 líderes de diferentes empresas, funcionarios de gobierno y ONGs, Project Play exploró la oportunidad de lanzar un esfuerzo simbiótico en México.

Para más información en inglés, puedes escribir al siguiente correo: Risa Isard (

Para más información en español, puedes escribir al siguiente correo: Jan Cristobal (


Aspen Institute Mexico

"Sport for All, Play for Life: A Playbook to Get Every Kid in the Game"

State of Play: 2016


new orleans youth sports summit

December 6, 2016

What if non-profits, government, schools, philanthropy, business, pro sports governing bodies and leagues, and the media worked together to apply the best strategies for changing the city through sport + physical activity? 

What if these strategies addressed key elements of increasing levels of sport & physical activity while also achieving important social development outcomes? 

What if the best learnings from collective impact and the global sport for development movement were leveraged to ensure change that is comprehensive and lasting, resulting in improved health, better education, more equitable employment and economic opportunity, and more prosperous and integrated communities?

The New Orleans Sport for Community Coalition, alongside Laureus Sport for Good USA and The Aspen Institute, hosted a community summit to discuss the work currently happening in New Orleans to move these questions from hypotheticals to reality. 

Over the course of the summit, participants addressed the targeted use of sports-based youth development in New Orleans, learned from collective impact experts about how to move the work forward, and charted concrete actions for how supporters from diverse sectors can work together to improve the lives of children and youth through the transformative power of sport.  

Featured speakers included ESPN's Michael Smith and the Aspen Institute's President and CEO Walter Isaacson, Sports & Society executive director Tom Farrey, and program associate Risa Isard.

Email Risa Isard with any questions (


"Sports Made Me a Cool Nerd" -- Interview with Michael Smith and Tom Farrey

Orleans Parish State of Youth Sports and Physical Activity -- 2015 Report from Laureus USA and Project Play



innovation summit

October 5, 2016

The Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program, American College of Sports Medicine, the Global Obesity Prevention Center at Johns Hopkins, and Laureus Foundation USA hosted the Innovation Summit: Moving American Health Across the Spectrum of Physical Activity in Washington D.C. This invitation-only conference convened leaders from sport, physical activity, health, science, and technology across the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors. An academic journal article identifying next steps in elevating the most promising initiatives and developments in the space is forthcoming.

The day included speaker presentations, ideation workgroups, and a fireside chat with U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy. Other featured speakers included Sports & Society Program executive director Tom Farrey and program associate Risa IsardJustin Kaufenberg of SportsEngine, Dr. Brian Hainline of the NCAA, Woody Scalof of Fitbit, Tom Cove of the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, and Edwin Moses, Missy Franklin, Bob Lujano and Benita Fitzgerald Mosley of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.

Video is available here. Revisit the conversation via hashtag #SportHealthInnovate.

Additional information is available in the program.

9 am: To Optimally Use and Build on the Compelling Science*

•    Bruce Lee: A Systems Approach to Improving Physical Activity and Health
•    Risa Isard: Building Sport for All, Play for Life Communities
•    Russ Pate: Putting the New in the New U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines
•    Loretta Di Pietro: Building on the Progress Report from The Lancet
•    Jim Whitehead, moderator

10 am: To Design the Next Phase of the Walking Movement

•    Janet Fulton: Measuring the Remarkable: Progress Since the Call to Action
•    Jack Groppel: Snapshot of Sector Commitments and Advances
•    Shavon Arline-Bradley: Continuing the Legacy of the Surgeon General's Call to Action
•    Kathy Smith: A Collective Voice for Walking: The Every Body Walk Collaborative
•    David Sabgir: Walking Toward Innovation
•    Tim Moran, moderator

11:30 am: To Find Inspiration in Group Innovation*

•    Benita Fitzgerald-Mosley: Introduction
•    Bob Lujano: Inspiring Inclusion through the Paralympic Movement

12:45 pm: To Score with Sports for American Society: A Strategic Panel Discussion

•    Alison Field: Health Benefits of Playing Sports and Being Active
•    Brian Hainline: Game Planning Sports for Health
•    Edwin Moses and Missy Franklin: Providing the Athlete's View
•    Colleen Doyle, Improving Equity Related to Physical Activity
•    Melicia Whitt-Glover: Bringing Health and Equity into Sports
•    Walt Thompson, moderator

2:00 pm: To Amplify the Role of Industry and Technology for Scale: Compelling Ideas and Proposals*

•    Justin Kaufenberg: DrivingSports Participation, Don't Quit Your Day Job
•    Woody Scal: Empowering Behavior Change Through Technology
•    Tom Cove: Engaging and Collaborating with the Power of Industry
•    Tom Farrey, moderator

3:30 pm: Fireside Chat: Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, moderated by Woody Scal*

Contact Risa Isard with questions:


conversation with ncaa president mark emmert

September 8, 2016

As president of the NCAA, Mark Emmert leads one of the most influential and far-reaching organizations in all of sports. Nearly 1,100 universities and colleges with more than 19,000 teams and 480,000 athletes in three divisions are members of the NCAA, whose policies and practices impact the lives of people – and not just fans – in every community in United States.

Today, more than $2.7 billion in athletic scholarship aid is distributed annually, up from $250 million in the early 1990s. The opportunity to play, and receive the benefits of participation in, college sports has reshaped the landscape of youth and high school sports over the past generation. Under Emmert since 2010, the NCAA has made health and wellness of young athletes at all levels a stated priority, along with the opportunity to receive a quality education. 

Sports & Society Program executive director Tom Farrey engaged Emmert in conversation about the role of the NCAA in building productive citizens and communities. How can it best promote mental and physical health from the college level down to the youth leagues? How can it provide athletic and educational opportunities for students from all communities, regardless of zip code? How much influence can it have at a time when the organization is being tested in the courts on a variety of issues, including athlete welfare?

The wide-ranging conversation with Emmert was followed by audience Q&A. 


olympic sportslink

August 25, 2016

Sports & Society executive director Tom Farrey addressed more than 400 representatives from National Governing Bodies, sports commissions, and visitors bureaus at the 9th Annual Olympic SportsLink in Dallas. It's an event designed to provide unique opportunities to create strategic partnerships between NGBs and cities, sports commissions, convention centers and visitors bureaus interested in Olympic/Paralympic sport and hosting U.S. Olympic Team Trials and championship events. Cities attending gained a better understanding of the impact on host communities. SportsLink also focused on sharing best practices in the sports event industry, including in youth sports


2016 project play summit

May 17, 2016

In the year since the release of the seminal Aspen Institute report, Sport for All, Play for Life: A Playbook to Get Every Kid in the Game, many organizations have taken action consistent with its eight strategies for the eight sectors that touch the lives of children. At the 2016 Project Play Summit at the Newseum, 450 leaders gathered to measure progress, share learnings and discover new opportunities to build healthy communities through sport.

The featured session was with first lady Michelle Obama, her brother Craig Robinson and his ESPN colleague, moderator Michael Wilbon, co-host of Pardon the Interruption. Three kids from South Side Chicago, all grown up, reflected on their childhood, sports parenting, and the importance of making sport affordable and accessible for all youth. Obama called on stakeholders to provide quality opportunities for every child, regardless of zip code or ability. (Video, excerpts and transcript below)

"This has to become a priority in our society," Obama said. "This affects all of us. Play and nutrition and overall investment in our kids — whether they can read and think and engage — it's just not enough for us to be okay with so many kids not having that at an excellent level. So whatever the dollar figure is, as a society, as taxpayers and as corporate America — we should figure out how much that costs, and then pay for it. Period."

Obama was joined by more than 60 other speakers at the sold-out summit, the nation's premier gathering of leaders at the intersection of sport, youth and health. Among them: Mary Davis, CEO, Special Olympics International; Tab Ramos, Youth Technical Director, US Soccer Federation; Jim Whitehead, CEO, American College of Sports Medicine; Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, CEO, Laureus Foundation USA; Dr. Bennet Omalu, Chief Medical Examiner, San Joaquin County (Calif.); Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, President and CEO, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; and Billie Jean King, civil rights pioneer. 

Several sessions were live-streamed, drawing more than 100,000 Facebook Live viewers, with the hashtag #ProjectPlay trending nationally on Twitter. 


Opening comments
Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute
Lt. Gen. (ret.) Mark Hertling, member of President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition

State of Play: 2016
Tom Farrey, Executive Director, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program

Ask Kids What They Want
What does the new research tell us?
Moderator: Jeremy Goldberg, President, LeagueApps
Tom Cove, President and CEO, Sports & Fitness Industry Association
Holly O'Donnell, National Executive Director, America SCORES
Tom Paskus, Principal Research Scientist, NCAA
Edwin Roman, Senior Director of Consumer Insights, ESPN
Carlo Carino, Participant, The First Tee – New Orleans

Reintroduce Free Play
Can large orgs drive de-organization?
Moderator: Jon Frankel, Correspondent, HBO Real Sports
Neeru Jayanthi, Director of Tennis Medicine, Emory University
Chris Marinak, SVP, League Economics & Strategy, MLB
Jason Collins, former NBA player
Jeremy Silberglied, Participant, Sports Plus

Encourage Sport Sampling
How can PE, clubs collaborate?
Moderator: Bill King, Senior Writer, Sports Business Journal
Brendan Ledwith, Coordinator, Sport Development, USA Volleyball
Sarah Lee, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention & Health Promotion
Ken Martel, Technical Director, USA Hockey
Paul Roetert, CEO, SHAPE America

Revitalize In-Town Leagues
Who will be their champion?
Moderator: Dan Shanoff, Content & Programming, Monumental Sports Network
Ryan Eckel, Vice President of Brand, Dick's Sporting Goods
Noah Blue Elk Hotchkiss, Founder, Tribal Adaptive Organization
Rebecca Kodysh, Executive Director of Community Impact, Cleveland Indians
Max Levitt, Founder & Executive Director, Leveling the Playing Field

Building a Social Movement for Access to Sport
Billie Jean King, tennis and civil rights champion, and Risa Isard, program associate, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program

First Lady Michelle Obama, with brother and ESPN analyst Craig Robinson, moderated by ESPN show host Michael Wilbon
WATCH // Excerpts of Obama's comments in The Aspen Journal of Ideas here and graphical quotes

Think Small
Can we systematize creativity in play spaces?
Moderator: Kevin Martinez, VP, Corporate Citizenship, ESPN
Corliss Allen Solomon, Doctoral Student, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Chip Patterson, Executive Director, The First Tee of Greater New Orleans
James Siegal, CEO, KaBOOM!
Erin Smith, Director of Education and Training, US Lacrosse

Train All Coaches
How to engage the hardest-to-reach?
Moderator: Mike Fletcher, Senior Writer, The Undefeated, ESPN
Jon Feinman, Founder, InnerCity Weightlifting
Leah Friedman, Junior Development Coordinator, USTA Chicago
Tony Korson, CEO, Koa Sports
Richard Pavlick, Co-Founder, Project Leader & Coach, YLC Kicks
Daleajah Williams, Playworks Junior Coach

Design for Development
Where to next with the American Development Model?
Moderator: Caitlin Morris, Sr. Dir. for North America, Global Community Impact, Nike
Christine Bolger, Coaching Education, United States Olympic Committee
Jeremy Campbell, Former professional wheelchair basketball player
Michael Clayton, Nat'l Coaches Education Program, USA Wrestling
Tab Ramos, Youth Technical Director and U-20 Men's Head Coach, U.S. Soccer

Emphasize Prevention
Brain Injuries: How much science do we need to act?
Moderator: Mark Hyman, Professor, George Washington University
Kevin Bieniek, Research Fellow, Mayo Clinic
Kate Carr, President and CEO, Safe Kids Worldwide
Dr. Sam Gandy, Prof. of Neurology and Psychiatry, Mount Sinai
Dr. Gerard Gioia, Division Chief, Neuropsychology, Children's National Health System
Dr. Bennet Omalu, Chief Medical Examiner, San Joaquin County (Calif.) and Professor, University of California-Davis

Physical Literacy
How to implement the concept?
Moderator: Cedric Bryant, Chief Science Officer, American Council on Exercise
Dean Kriellaars, Associate Professor, University of Manitoba
Mike Sagas, Department Chair and Professor, University of Florida
Kathleen Tullie, Founder, BOKS

Model Communities
What works in building local coalitions?
Moderator: Steve Patrick, Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions
Renata Simril, President, LA84 Foundation
Jamie Schmill, New Orleans Program Officer, Laureus USA
Sara Couppas, Sports and Nutrition, Clinton Foundation>
Bruce Lee, Director, Global Obesity Prevention Center, Johns Hopkins University
Laurence Chalip, Professor, University of Illinois

Call for Leadership
Treetops to grassroots: How to scale a culture of health in sports?
Moderator: Tom Farrey, Aspen Inst. Sports & Society Program
Mary Davis, CEO, Special Olympics International
Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, CEO, Laureus USA
Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, CEO, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Jorge Perez, SVP, Programs and the Y Experience, YMCA of the USA
Jim Whitehead, CEO, American College of Sports Medicine

"What's Your Play?" announcements
Among the 11 commitments to action (see all on the Project Play report website):

  • Under Armour: Committed to lifting youth sport participation rates in East Baltimore through its Project Heartbeat initiative, with the support of the Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program
  • YMCA of USA: Committed to adopting Project Play's Sport for All, Play for Life model and its 8 Plays in a "comprehensive, major upgrade of our youth sports approach and programs," to be scaled through the nation's 2,700 Y's over the next two to three years

Leaders from each of the following sectors attended the 2016 Project Play Summit: National Sport Organizations, Community Recreation Groups, Public Health, Business & Industry, Tech & Media, Policymakers & Civic Leaders; Education; and Parents. Insights shared during the event informed the conclusions of State of Play: 2016 report, a draft of which was released at the summit. The final version was released one month later and identified key developments of the past year in each of the eight strategy areas that create the framework for action in the Sport for All, Play for Lifereport, along with the latest sport participation rates for children and other original data.


State of Play: 2016: Trends and developments in youth sports

Washington Post coverage:

ESPN coverage and columns:

Forbes coverage and columns:

"Michelle O.: Bored kids get guns and 'just go off on society," by Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner

"Most youth sports have seen decline in participation since 2008, and cost plays a part," by Dalton LaFerney, Dallas Morning News

"Project Play -- Project Parent," by Skye Eddy Bruce, the Institute for Soccer Parenting

Storify coverage of selected tweets with hashtag #ProjectPlay

White House transcript of conversation with Obama, Robinson and Wilbon

Excerpts of Obama's comments in The Aspen Journal of Ideas

Aspen Institute media release on first lady's participation here

Graphical drawings of panelists, plus event photos

Video of all available sessions

Creating Multi-Sport Venues: Resource released at 2016 Project Play Summit, offering guidance for sports clubs, camps, parks & rec departments, and other providers that are looking to better understand how to integrate sport sampling into their programs

For all inquiries, contact


colorado youth sports summit

April 8, 2016

Like other states, Colorado faces challenges in dealing with a crisis of physical inactivity, parental concerns about injuries, and declining participation in youth sports. How can leaders work together to make sport more affordable, accessible and developmentally appropriate for all children?

The University of Denver held the first Colorado Youth Sports Summit, an event that reviewed and recognized sport programs and activities that contribute positively to the overall development of children.

The summit built on the work of the Aspen Institute’s Project Play, a multistage initiative to provide stakeholders with the tools to build healthier communities through sports. Led by executive director Tom Farrey, Project Play has used research and input from experts, including several from Colorado, to provide guidance for those of us working in youth sports.

The goal of this summit was to reaffirm Colorado as a leader in the provision of youth sport programs that teach physical literacy and prepare young people for a lifetime of healthy physical activity. Only by working together at the state and local levels can we overcome the challenges that we face.

Program Highlights:

  • Kick off with Tom Farrey, author of Game On: The All American Race to Make Champions of Our Children, award winning journalist, and director of Project Play
  • A presentation on the importance of Physical Literacy by Robin Schepper, Director, Bipartisan Policy Center, Washington, DC
  • Panel of leaders from USOC, national governing bodies and other organizations that have already reimagined youth sports in their developmental programs
  • A presentation on injuries in youth sport by Dr. Shale Wong, Pediatrics, CU School of Medicine
  • Breakout sessions on using The Playbook to promote physical literacy and overall childhood development
  • A presentation on  integrating physical literacy into youth sport practices
  • General summary of best practices and a CALL TO ACTION for improving youth sports

More information is available on the event website here.


teams '15 conference and expo

November 11, 2015

At the world's leading conference for the sports events industry, a session was devoted to the Project Play report and its eight strategies for the eight sectors that touch the lives of children. Event organizers as well as leaders from national sport governing bodies and other groups learned how they can use the report to get and keep more children active through sports in their communities. Panelists in Las Vegas included Skip Gilbert, managing director of professional tennis operations for the U.S. Tennis Association and tournament manager for the U.S Open.


North American Society for the Sociology of Sport conference

November 6, 2015

At the 36th annual conference of the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport, a session titled "NASSS Coaches Assess the Project Play Report" presented an invited panel of NASSS members who are youth coaches to engage their sociological imagination and critically discuss the goals and recommendations in the Aspen Institute's Project Play report. The panelists in New Mexico explored questions related to the challenges and tactics associated with putting Project Play recommendations into action. The session recognized that although Project Play focuses on the U.S, it was partly informed by similar efforts in Canada, and is applicable to youth sports worldwide.

The moderator of the session was Brian Gearity, professor at the University of Denver. Joining him as panelists were Gary Sailes, Indiana University; Katlin Okamoto, University of Minnesota; Jim Denison, University of Alberta; Algerian Hart, Western Illinois University; Anna Baeth, University of Minnesota; Jeffrey Montez De Oca, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs; and Ryan King White, Towson University. The session chair was Jay Coakley, University of Colorado-Colorado Springs and a member of the Project Play advisory group.

More information on the conference is here.


SAP InnoJam: Coding the Future

Oct. 26-27, 2015

At the SAP InnoJam in Palo Alto, the Aspen Institute's Tom Farrey issued a challenge to student teams from Bay Area universities based on an opportunity identified in the Project Play report: Build a tool that can connect youth, parents and others to the full array of sport programs and sites in their communities. Two of the eight teams of coders and business students were assigned to the 30-hour challenge, and one of them -- "Team Rollick," comprised of students from San Francisco State and Chico State -- won the design thinking competition, with a prototype of a mobile app. 

The judging panel included senior SAP executives, including SAP Chief Human Resources Officer Stefan Ries. As winners, the members of "Team Rollick" showcased their app as part of the SAP University Alliances experience at the SAPPHIRE NOW conference in Orlando, Fla.

More on the competition, held at the HanaHaus in downtown Palo Alto, is here. Photos and social media on the event can be found on Twitter #Innojam


2015 Community Olympic Development Program Directors Conference

Oct. 14, 2015

Sports and Society Program Executive Director Tom Farrey presented to 20 Community Olympic Development Program (CODP) directors at the CODP conference. He helped these leaders, who represent 15 programs from across the US, understand how they can activate and shape programming based on the strategies from the Project Play report.


Project Play Report


where's the money?

Oct. 6, 2015

The increasingly sedentary lifestyles of children, and participation declines in many youth sports, are in part due to a structural reality: lack of access to safe, affordable, nearby recreation facilities. State, county and municipal leaders must find ways to avoid closure of more parks, recreation centers, and sports complexes.

Challenging outdated finance and management models is essential. Funding is a key factor in the development of new parks and recreation centers and the maintenance of existing recreation assets. Communities that have been successful in addressing financing issues have developed innovative approaches that often involve private-sector budgeting models, public-private partnerships, and economic impact analyses which justify new or continued investment in sport and recreation centers.

This roundtable of 25+ leaders built on a September 2014 roundtable that identified opportunities to grow access to recreation spaces, by focusing on facility financing solutions. Participants included Barbara Tulipane, president and CEO of the National Recreation and Park Association and Michael Kelly, general superintendent and CEO of the Chicago Park District, along with some of the brightest minds in sports finance. Sponsored by the Sports Facilities Advisory, the event informed the creation of a resource that can be used by key decision-makers to fund more recreation spaces.


Event program with agenda, list of participants

Research on innovation in financing of sport and recreation spaces -- by Texas A&M University via Project Play (26-page PDF)

"Bringing Innovation into Play," Huffington Post blog by roundtable participant Jon Brilliant, on promise of Social Impact Funds

From the archive: "Fields of Dreams: Innovate and They Will Come" -- event summary report from 2014 roundtable 

Video Interviews with Participants


Boys & girls club of America: "great think"

September 30, 2015

Project Play joined Boys & Girls Clubs of America leaders for a think-tank style day in Washington D.C., to share best practices and shape policies for the organization.


U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Assembly

Sept. 24, 2015

Tom Farrey presented the Aspen Institute's Physical Literacy report to leaders of the Multi-Sport Organizations Council of the U.S. Olympic Committee. He explained how it syncs with the Project Play report and the recent sport industry endorsement of multi-sport play. The session was open and free to the public. 



sport for good weekend

Sept. 17-20, 2015

Back in February at the Project Play Summit, the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation announced that it would be convening a sport-for-development collective impact coalition to create a framework for stakeholders to work together effectively in order to improve opportunities for youth in New Orleans. 

In September, Laureus hosted a Sport for Good weekend in New Orleans, which began with a Project Play training session for the city-wide coalition of youth sports providers. Laureus released a state of youth sports and physical activity report that addressed the needs of children in the Orleans Parish. The report included profiles of local children, whose lives hang in the balance. The profiles were authored by the Aspen Institute and journalist Hugo Kugiya,

Sports & Society Executive Director Tom Farrey also moderated a lively panel at Tulane University that focused on the challenge of retaining girls in sports. Participating in the dialogue were Olympic champions Allyson Felix (track) and Kelly Clark (snowboarding), former Saints running back Deuce McAllister, and Playworks chief marketing officer Tonya Antonucci.  

In the coming months, Project Play continued to support the coalition in New Orleans as it aims to grow access to quality programming across the city.


Orleans Parish State of Youth Sports and Physical Activity report, by the Laureus Foundation USA with support from the Aspen Institute Project Play

"Who Needs Sports?" -- profiles of six children in New Orleans, authored by Hugo Kugiya and published in Medium

WATCH: Panel on retaining girls in sports, moderated by Tom Farrey

National Recreation and Parks Association Annual Conference

September 16, 2015

Sports & Society executive director Tom Farrey spoke on behalf of Project Play at the 2015 National Recreation and Parks Association Annual Conference. More than 7,000 park and recreation professionals, citizen advocates, and industry suppliers gathered at the premier annual meeting of the park and recreation community. At the conference, Project Play shared Sport for All, Play for Life: A Playbook to Get Every Kid in the Game and emphasized the role that park and recreation departments can play in giving all children the opportunity to be active through sport.

The Future of Play
Wednesday, September 16 | 1:00-1:45pm PDT
The future of play belongs to one of two realms – virtual or physical. Right now, virtual is winning the day. Video games, internet sites, and other technology options are more effectively engaging children, providing great exercise for thumbs and not much else. What will it take to steal back the concept of “play” and address our national epidemic of physical inactivity? Tom Farrey, executive director of the Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society Program, discussed the eight key strategies, as identified in the Project Play report released earlier this year.


Institute of Sports Law and Ethics Symposium

September 10, 2015

Tom Farrey, Sports & Society executive director and lead author of the Project Play report, was a featured speaker at the sixth annual Institute of Sports Law and Ethics Symposium at Santa Clara University. More information on the symposium is here.


MultiSport Play: What Next?

September 7-8, 2015

At the 2015 US Open, the Aspen Institute convened sport and media leaders to explore opportunities to encourage sport sampling among children, as outlined in the third strategy of the Project Play report, Sport for All, Play for Life: A Playbook to Get Every Kid in the Game. The pair of roundtables came in the wake of an "endorsement" of multi-sport play by 28 national sport governing bodies, five professional leagues, and other organizations. Led by the U.S. Tennis Association, the statement was announced in a PSA published Aug. 10 in the Sports Business Journal. It represented the first collective effort by the sports industry to mobilize around a key strategy in the Project Play report, and an unprecedented move to jointly address falling sport participation rates.

A press event at the US Open helped to share the message more widely. Joining Tom Farrey was boxing champion Laila Ali, New York Rangers captain and Olympian Ryan McDonagh, Olympic all-around gymnastics gold medalist Nastia Liukin, and USTA chief marketing officer Sue Hunt.

The roundtable and related activities help build momentum for sport sampling in sport and medical circles. In September 2015, the American Academy of Pediatrics cited the work of Project Play in issuing a position paper recommending that its 60,000 members advise against sport specialization until at least age 15.

"Encourage Sport Sampling" -- the third strategy in Project Play report on how to reimagine youth sports in America

"Sport Specializaton and Intensive Training in Young Athletes," position paper by the American Academy of Pediatrics (Sept. 2016)

"What Does the Science Say About Athletic Development in Children?" -- research report for Aspen Institute by SPARC on sport specialization vs. multi-sport play

"Physical Literacy in the United States: A Model, Strategic Plan, and Call to Action" -- Aspen Institute deep dive report on a promising concept

News coverage: espnW | NPR Morning Edition | CBS This Morning | Sports Business Journal | USA Today | BloombergBusiness | The Big Lead | Huffington Post SI for Kids | Parents Magazine The Post-Game | USA Hockey

Athlete observations: Wayne Gretzky | Victoria Azarenka | Derek Stepan

Panel discussion on sport sampling -- video from 2015 Project Play Summit, featuring: Steve Boyle, Director, 2-4-1 Sports; David Esquith, Director, Office of Safe and Healthy Students, U.S. Department of Education; Tim Morehouse, Olympic silver medalist, and Founder, Fencing in Schools; Mary Wittenberg, (former) CEO, New York Road Runners

"See Who's Playing" -- partial list of groups taking actions consistent with Project Play report

American Development Model -- Inspired by Project Play, the US Olympic Committee released a handbook offering NGBs, clubs, coaches and parents guidance on implementing age-appropriate play.

Event photos


The Key to Population Health? Physical Literacy

June 27, 2015

Over the past decade, coalitions in about a dozen countries have embraced initiatives based on a desired outcome in individuals and populations called “physical literacy.” These efforts have been launched in response to a common problem in industrialized societies: declining rates of physical activity. But what is physical literacy? Can it be measured? And how to build a cross-sector movement around it in the U.S., with special focus on engaging our most vulnerable children? At this session at Spotlight: Health in Aspen, Colorado, the Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program released a white paper, supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, conceptualizing a path forward. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy delivered opening remarks, followed by a panel moderated by Sports & Society executive director Tom Farrey and featuring Kathleen Sebelius, former secretary of Health and Human Services; Dr. Kenneth Davis, president and CEO of Mount Sinai Health System; and Dr. Shale Wong, Professor of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, University of Colorado-Denver.


Physical Literacy in the United States: A Model, Strategic Plan, and Call to Action: white paper on physical literacy

Opening remarks by Surgeon General Vivek Murthy (video)

Event photos

Physical Literacy: A Global Environmental Scanfirst effort to catalogue physical literacy efforts across the world, in partnership with SPARC


International Physical Literacy Conference

June 13-16, 2015

The Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program and Project Play led a session at the 2015 International Physical Literacy Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia. The conference brought together sport, health, education and recreation experts to advance the knowledge, application and implementation of physical literacy programming across the globe. The session also marked the release of the Aspen Institute's global scan of physical literacy efforts, the first document of its kind (see materials below for downloadable PDF).


Physical Literacy: A Global Environmental Scanfirst effort to catalogue physical literacy efforts across the world, in partnership with SPARC


National Coaching Conference

June 10-12, 2015

Sports & Society Program Executive Director Tom Farrey delivered a keynote address, "Activating Project Play: How to Get All Youth Coaches Trained?" The theme for the 2015 National Coaching Conference in Morgantown, West Virginia was "Physical Literacy: The Launching Pad for Lifetime Athletic Development and Performance," a topic on which Project Play Advisory Group member Dean Kriellaars, professor at the University of Manitoba, also presented a keynote address.

The National Coaching Conference was hosted by the United States Coaching Education Coalition, whose members include the U.S. Olympic Committee, NCAA, National Federation of State High School Associations, SHAPE America and National Strength and Conditioning Association. The conference brought together coaches, coach educators/developers and sport science researchers for the enrichment of coaching and sport. The program focused on current research and practice models for optimal integration of athletic development for both participation and peak performance.


Sport for All, Play for Life: A Playbook to Get Every Kid in the Game


Project Play and the Critical Role of Sports Medicine and Science

May 29, 2015

Project Play was among representatives from more than 70 disciplines that came together from around the globe at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting in San Diego to share new clinical techniques, scientific advancements and cutting-edge research in sports medicine, exercise science, physical activity and public health. At the meeting, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Executive Director Tom Farrey presented the Project Play report, Sport for All, Play for Life: A Playbook to Get Every Kid in the Game, and led a panel discussion designed to help the sports medicine community understand how it can take actions consistent with the report and its eight strategies aimed at giving all children the opportunity to be active through sport. He also offered a preview of the forthcoming physical literacy white paper, which was released in June.

Joining Farrey were:

  • Carrie Jaworski, M.D., FACSM, NorthShore University Health Systems
  • John DiFiori, M.D., UCLA School of Medicine
  • Mike Bergeron, Ph.D., FACSM, Sandford USD Medical Center, executive director, NYSHSI


Sport for All, Play for Life: A Playbook to Get Every Kid in the Game


Tech + Youth Sports = Universal Access

March 14, 2015

Technology is often blamed for falling participation rates in team sports. But tech isn't going away (nor should it). So, how do we use tech as an asset to reduce the barriers to an early positive sports experience for all kids in all communities? How can technology help in reaching the hardest-to-reach kids, the ones most often left behind by today's youth sports system? On the heels of the release of the Aspen Institute's Project Play report, Project Play spoke at SXSports for an engaging conversation about how technology - a solution to so many of society's needs - can help solve a broken youth sports system.


Summary report from Project Play's tech roundtable: From Digital to Physical: Can Tech Make it Happen?


Physical Literacy: Developing a Plan for the United States

February 26, 2015

Over the past decade, about a dozen countries have introduced, in a variety of forms, social movements based on a concept that has become known as “physical literacy.” Now we’re helping introduce it to the U.S. Defined by our working group as “the ability, confidence, and desire to be physically active for life,” physical literacy efforts are a response to a common problem in developed societies: declining rates of physical activity.

Convened the day after the 2015 Project Play Summit (also held in Washington), the roundtable event in Washington D.C.:

• Reviewed the paper that our Physical Literacy Working Group has drafted

• Amended proposed sector recommendations and suggested additional ideas

• Laid the groundwork for broad adoption of physical literacy as a desired outcome with children


Event program (pdf)

Aspen Institute Physical Literacy project announcement


2015 Project Play Summit

February 25, 2015

What happens when 350 leaders gather to reimagine youth sports in America, guided by the Project Play report? A groundswell of efforts to make sports more accessible, affordable and enjoyable to more children. 

The 2015 Project Play Summit was hosted at the Newseum in Washington D.c. by the Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program after the release of Sport for All, Play for Life:A Playbook to Get Every Kid in the Game. The event was attended by high-level leaders from the eight sectors that touch the lives of children -- community recreation groups, national sport organizations, policymakers & civic leaders, education, public health, business & industry, and tech & media. Sold out a month in advance, the summit was live-streamed to a virtual audience

Highlights included the keynote address of U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, who framed youth sports as a tool of disease prevention, and, in a first for his office, emphasized the need to extend the benefits of participation to all children. Of the Project Play report, he said, "You have built a very powerful roadmap" for cross-sector collaboration that will help youth sports serve the needs of public health.

During the summit, 17 organizations (including the NCAA, Major League Baseball, U.S. Lacrosse, afterschool programs and leading medical groups) announced commitments to action consistent with the strategies identified in the report. Since then, many other organizations have launched symbiotic initiatives.

Event sponsors were the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation USA and Whistle Sports. Project Play partners included the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Nike, Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, Clinton Foundation, University of Florida Sport Policy & Research Collaborative, and the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, and USA Bobsled & Skeleton. Additional thanks to ESPN, Wally Haas and William Mayer for their support.


Value of the Project Play Summit (1 min, 36 secs) WATCH

Graphical drawings of panels, plus event photos


8:25am   Welcome

Elliot Gerson, Executive Vice President, Aspen Institute
Shellie Pfohl, Executive Director, President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition

8:30am   Opening Remarks   WATCH
Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy, M.D., M.B.A., U.S. Surgeon General

8:45am   State of Play   WATCH
Tom Farrey, Executive Director, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program

9:00am   What is Physical Literacy?   WATCH

Robin Schepper, Senior Advisor, Bipartisan Policy Center
With demonstrations by parkour kids, soccer freestyler Indi Cowie

9:10am   What Good Looks Like in Youth Sports (to Kids)  WATCH

Moderator: Allyson Felix, Olympic champion sprinter


  • Mo’ne Davis, pitcher, 2014 Little League World Series
  • Madalin Gomez, participant, DC SCORES
  • Bodhi Lovely, Youth Advisory Board Member, Alliance for a Healthier Generation
  • Gabe Shanoff, 8-year-old, Bethesda, MD

9:40am   Project Play Team USA Bobsled   WATCH

Darrin Steele, CEO, USA Bobsled & Skeleton
Video montage of national team members  WATCH



10:00am   Seventh floor | “Ask Kids What They Want”  WATCH

Moderator: Gary Hall Jr., 10-time Olympic gold medalist, swimming


  • Erin Bryant, alumna, DC SCORES
  • Amanda Visek, Associate Professor, Exercise Science, George Washington University School of Public Health
  • John West, Founder and CEO, Whistle Sports
  • Eli Wolff, Director, Inclusive Sports Initiative, Institute for Human Centered Design

Eighth floor | “Reintroduce Free Play”  WATCH

Moderator: Jay Coakley, Professor Emeritus, Department of Sociology,

University of Colorado-Colorado Springs


  • Katrina Adams, President, U.S. Tennis Association
  • Dr. Matt Bowers, Clinical Assistant Professor, Kinesiology and Health Education, College of Education, University of Texas
  • Callan Chythlook-Sifsof, Olympic snowboarder
  • Indi Cowie, soccer freestyler
  • Mara Smith, Founder and Principal, Great Play

11:00am   Seventh floor | “Revitalize In-Town Leagues”  WATCH

Moderator: Sharon Roerty, Senior Program Officer, Childhood Obesity Team,

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation


  • Steve Bandura, Little League coach, Taney Dragons (Philadelphia)
  • Chris Green, Professor, College of Applied Health Sciences, Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Adam Hallet, coach of “Roadkill” soccer team (Burlington, Conn.)
  • Stephen Keener, President and CEO, Little League Baseball International
  • Cornell McClellan, Personal Trainer to the First Family

Eighth floor | “Encourage Sport Sampling” WATCH

Moderator: Peter Davis, Director, Sports Performance Management


  • Steve Boyle, Director, 2-4-1 Sports
  • David Esquith, Director, Office of Safe and Healthy Students, U.S. Department of Education
  • Tim Morehouse, Olympic silver medalist, and Founder, Fencing in Schools
  • Mary Wittenberg, CEO, New York Road Runners

Noon   Networking Lunch


1:00pm   Seventh floor | “Design for Development”  WATCH

Moderator: Dr. Brian Hainline, Chief Medical Officer, NCAA


  • Alan Ashley, Chief of Sport Performance, US Olympic Committee
  • Jason Collins, former NBA player
  • David Ogrean, Executive Director, USA Hockey
  • Shale Wong, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of Colorado-Denver

Eighth floor | “Emphasize Prevention”  WATCH

Moderator: Jim Whitehead, Executive Vice President/CEO, American College of Sports Medicine


  • Dr. Robert Cantu, Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery, Boston University School of Medicine
  • Jayne Greenberg, District Director of Physical Education and Health Literacy, Miami-Dade County (Fla.) Public Schools
  • Nancy Hogshead-Makar, CEO, Champion Women
  • Stephen Levin, Councilmember, New York City Council

2:00pm   Seventh floor | “Train All Coaches”  WATCH

Moderator: Terry Liskevych, Oregon State volleyball coach and co-founder, Art of Coaching


  • Janet Carter, Executive Director, Coaching Corps
  • Chris Marinak, Senior Vice President, League Economics and Strategy, Major League Baseball
  • Anthony Robles, NCAA champion wrestler and member of National Wrestling Hall of Fame
  • Deborah Slaner Larkin, CEO, Women’s Sports Foundation
  • Sam Snow, Director of Coaching, U.S. Youth Soccer Association

Eighth floor | “Think Small”  WATCH

Moderator: Laurence Chalip, Professor and Department Head, College of Applied Health Sciences, Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


  • Abigail Golden-Vazquez, Executive Director, Latinos & Society Program, Aspen Institute
  • Darell Hammond, CEO and Founder, KaBOOM!
  • Dev Pathik, Founder and CEO, Sports Facilities Advisory
  • J.O. Spengler, Professor, Department of Tourism, Recreation & Sport Management, University of Florida
  • Barbara Tulipane, CEO and President, National Recreation and Park Association

3:00pm   Physical Activity Break

Cornell McClellan, Personal Trainer to the First Family

3:15pm   Call to Leadership   WATCH

Moderator: Walter Isaacson, President and CEO, Aspen Institute


  • Gary Bettman, Commissioner, National Hockey League
  • Ginny Ehrlich, Director, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • Dean Hovey, CEO, Digifit
  • Caitlin Morris, Senior Director of North America Community Impact, Nike
  • Edwin Moses, Chair, Laureus World Sports Academy

4:15pm   What’s Your Play?   WATCH

Facilitator: Alex Chan, Associate Director, National Strategy, Clinton Health Matters Initiative

Commitments to action were made in each of the eight strategies, and another nine were recognized


4:30pm   Best Ideas of the Summit

Facilitator: Shellie Pfohl

Winning idea emerging from each of the eight activation strategy sessions and as voted on by Summit attendees -- "multi-sport clubs" -- received a Aspen Institute-hosted, Project Play roundtable to be scheduled for later date in 2015, where leaders convened to further develop the concept

4:50pm   Closing Remarks + Next Steps

Tom Farrey


News coverage of 2015 Project Play Summit

ESPN | Washington Post | USA Today 
Hartford Courant | Indianapolis TV station WISH
Aspen Idea Magazine


A New Vision, Platform for Youth Sports in America by Tom Farrey

Are We Having Fun Yet? US Lacrosse and Project Play, by Erin Smith

Why Make Room in Sports for Kids with Developmental Disabilities? by Darrin Steele

Seven Steps to Improving Youth Access to Sports, by Edwin Moses

Youth Sports: For Everyone or Elites? by Beau Dure

What Do You Do? Physical Literacy in Action, by Robin Schepper

Aspen Institute Salutes USA Hockey, NHL in Recent Report, by USA Hockey

Sport for All, Play for Life: A Playbook to Get Every Kid in the Game

Report Website | Hard Copy

Project Play Report Media Release

Related materials from archive

espnW/Aspen Institute Project Play survey of parents on youth sports issues (Oct. 2014)

2013 Project Play Launch Summit: Highlights and Observations


What Do Mothers Want from Youth Sports?

Oct. 10, 2014

A nationally representative survey of parents conducted by espnW and the Aspen Institute's Project Play showed broad and often deep concern about the state of youth sports, on topics ranging from concussion risks to the costs of participation to the quality and behavior of coaches. With results in hand from the espnW/Aspen Institute Project Play survey, we co-hosted a roundtable at the conclusion of The espnW: Women + Sports Summit, where thoughts leaders reacted to the findings. The event helped define and elevate the voices of mothers in the conversation around quality youth sports.

For more information, contact program coordinator Risa Isard.


Event program: Informational charts, attendees, other materials (pdf)

Results from the espnW/Aspen Institute Project Play Survey of Parents on youth sports issues (pdf)

ESPN Poll: Most Parents Have Concerns about the State of Youth Sports, espnW news story

Safety in Youth Sports: Parents Have Spoken, We Have Listened, Now it's Time to Act, Huffington Post column by Jim Whitehead, CEO/Executive Vice President, American College of Sports Medicine



fields of dreams: innovate and they will come?

September 24, 2014

Any true commitment to broad-based sports participation begins with infrastructure. Fields. Gyms. Rinks. Rec centers. Bike paths. Build, maintain and secure ‘em, or pay the price later. Federal support for such projects took a serious hit in 1980, and it’s never recovered. Today, we see park and rec departments under significant duress – and the rise of private, specialized athletic facilities whose programming is too expensive for many families. In Chicago, the Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society Program convened 40+ leaders for a Project Play conversation on how to grow the supply of safe play spaces that meet the needs of all children in all communities. Held at Navy Pier on the final day of the Illinois Youth Sports Summit, and on the eve of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Assembly, the dialogue identified breakthrough ideas in funding, collaboration and innovation that can serve urban, suburban and rural communities – each of which face its own distinct challenges. Leaders also considered ways that the hosting of an Olympic Games could best leave a legacy of community facilities.


"Places to Play: A Summary of Key Characteristics of the Built Environment that Support 'Sport for All, Play for Life' Communities": Project Play research report by J.O. Spengler and Ori Baber, University of Florida's Sport Policy and Research Collaboraite (6-page PDF)

ESPN: Playground Basketball Is Dying
The Huffington Post: 12 Nostalgic Photos that Capture the Disappearance of an American Icon

AGENDA (subject to change):

Noon Lunch + networking

1:30pm Welcome and introduction to the topics
Tom Farrey, Executive Director, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program

1:45pm Five trends in play spaces
JO Spengler, Sports Policy and Research Collaborative, University of Florida

2-4pm Working groups

  • Urban
  • Suburban
  • Rural
  • Olympic legacy

4 pm Report backs

5 pm Meeting concludes

Event Recap: Barriers and opportunities to sport for youth in urban, rural, and suburban spaces, plus an exploration of the possibilities for an Olympic Games that leaves a legacy of community facilities (pdf)

Event program: Informational charts, attendees, other materials (pdf)

"Places to Play: A Summary of Key Characteristics of the Built Environment that Support 'Sport for All, Play for Life' Communities": Project Play research report by J.O. Spengler and Ori Baber, University of Florida's Sport Policy and Research Collaboraite (6-page PDF)

Activating Kids: USA Hockey coverage of the roundtable

Storify event recap

Illinois Youth Sport Initiative launches: State-based Project Play analog

Pre-event reading: Playground Basketball Is Dying, by ESPN; and 12 Nostalgic Photos that Capture the Disappearance of an American Icon, by the Huffington Post







Illinois Youth Sport Initiative

September 24, 2014

In collaboration with the Aspen Institute’s Project Play, the Illinois Youth Sport Summit convened 64 leaders from across a wide spectrum of state agencies and organizations that are responsible for the design, delivery, and execution of youth sports programming. The two-day summit explored the barriers that impair cooperation across sectors, and began the process of designing and sustaining youth programs that benefit all kids in all communities across Illinois.

As a result of the summit, the Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism at the University of Illinois has now created the Illinois Youth Sport Initiative, which will serve two primary purposes. First, it will provide a platform for sharing resources, insights, and strategies for positive reform of youth sport. Second, it will facilitate formulation and implementation of tactics to achieve such reforms, promoting alliances and collaborations among youth sport providers. The initiative represents the first state-based analog to Project Play, a national effort to reimagine youth sports in a form that delivers universal access to an early positive sports experience.

“The Illinois Youth Sport Summit complements Project Play by inviting state and local policymakers to reimagine youth sport,” said Laurence Chalip, professor and chair of the Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism at the University of Illinois. “We have worked closely with Project Play, and will continue to do so as we roll out the next steps. The partnership between Illinois youth sport policymakers and Project Play is valuable partnership because it strengthens the links among local, state and national efforts to build an inclusive and positive youth sport experience for all young people.”

Chalip, a member of the Aspen Institute’s Project Play advisory group, doctoral student Raquel Hutchinson, Operations Director of the Illinois Youth Sport Summit, and Jarrod Scheunemann, Community Services and Education Coordinator of the Office of Recreation and Park Resources will spearhead the state-based initiative. It will produce a white paper to summarize key ideas from the summit, and is forming working groups to action those ideas. The ideas flowed from the two-day summit at Navy Pier in Chicago, where the Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society Program also hosted a roundtable of 40 leaders, “Fields of Dreams: Innovate and They Will Come?” The events were held on the eve of the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Assembly.

“Designing solutions at the state-based level is important,” said Tom Farrey, executive director of the Sports & Society Program. “Each state has a different set of challenges, barriers, policies, opportunities and resources when it comes to getting kids active through sports, so gathering the key stakeholders from across sectors, from the parks and recreation level up, holds great promise in identifying opportunities for collective action. I look forward to seeing what the initiative develops, as a potential model for other states.”

For more information about the Illinois Youth Sport Summit, visit their website and read Reinventing Youth Sports in Illinois: A Report from the Illinois Youth Sport Summit.


Physical Inactivity: Why Youth Sports Holds the Key

March 14, 2014

Children who are physically active enjoy a wide range of emotional, physical, cognitive and social benefits, and are far more likely to achieve their full human potential. At the Partnership for a Healthier America Summit -- one of the premier gatherings of leaders working to end childhood obesity -- Tom Farrey discussed how the Aspen Institute's Project Play will get and keep more kids active through the creation of early positive experiences in sports. Joining him to share their work in this space were Matt Geschke, director of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation USA; Janet Froetscher, CEO of Special Olympics; and Chris Snyder, director of coach education for the U.S. Olympic Committee. 


Aligning for Impact: Delivering Early Positive Experiences at Scale

March 12, 2014

Over the past year, the Aspen Institute's Project Play has begun to reimagine youth sports in America in a form that serves all children and all communities. A series of roundtables has established the value of anchoring our disjointed sports system in the principles of age-appropriate play, of training volunteer coaches in the basic competencies to deliver an early positive experience, and the need to grow sport participation rates among the most vulnerable populations. Now, how can stakeholders deliver scalable progress in each of these channels? Underwritten by Nike through its support of the Designed to Move platform, this roundtable of 30 leaders considered the role of, and opportunities for foundations, government, corporations and the health care sector.

Roundtable summary report (11-page PDF)


"Funding for Youth Sport: Learning from the Past and Aligning for the Future": Project Play research report by Brad Fawver and J.O. Spengler, University of Florida's Sport Policy and Research Collaborative (8-page PDF)

Welcome Comments
Walter Isaacson, CEO, Aspen Institute

Project Play Updates

American Development Model and Youth Coach Training

Chris Snyder, US Olympic Committee

Universal Access

Alex Chan, Clinton Health Matters Initiative

Leveraging Existing Resources: How Can Grant-Makers Align for Greater Impact?

Unlocking New Resources: How to Bring More Players into the Game?

Beyond Title IX: What’s the Role of Government?


From Digital to Physical Play: Can Tech Make It Happen?

Feb. 26, 2014

Technology is often blamed for falling participation rates in team sports. But tech isn't going away. So how do we use tech as an asset, and reduce the barriers to an early positive sports experience? This one-day roundtable convened 40+ leaders from the realms of technology, business innovation, sport and academia to develop four emerging ideas that could change the game for kids and youth sports, one of the few industries whose model has yet to be disrupted (for the better) by technology. The event, underwritten by the David & Lucile Packard Foundation and hosted at Google, included a featured talk with Google senior executive Gopi Kallayil, who inspired attendees by drawing connnections to the company's eight points of innovation.

Event summary report (10-page PDF)



9:00 am Welcome
Tom Farrey, Director, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program
9:45 am Introduction of the Ideas to be Developed

Tech to Measure: Mapping for Play
Moderator: Nathan Plowman, Partnerships Director, Nike Access to Sport
Today, we all use Google or Apple Maps. One health services provider has introduced visually compelling “heat maps” of obesity rates by zip codes. With those examples as inspiration, we ask how mapping technology can be used in new and dynamic ways to understand gaps and opportunities in providing sport/recreation opportunities for kids.

Tech to Connect: Supply Meets Demand
Moderator: Jeremy Goldberg, President, LeagueApps
Lots of kids want to play sports but lack access to or fall out of the system, and never find the best sport option for them. On the supply side, we have less visible sport programs that need kids but don’t know how to identify prospects or reach them. How do we connect kids with experiences (organized or pickup) they might enjoy and find success at?

Tech to Inspire: the Passive-Active Video Game
Moderator: Hans Anderson, Sr. Concept Developer, ESPN Emerging Technology
We have passive video games like Madden or FIFA soccer. And we have active video games designed to promote physical activity. Despite progress, the latter haven’t been nearly as successful as the former. But what if we added features and functionality to passive video games that encouraged kids to get off the couch and play and sign up for real sports?

Tech to Teach: Killer App for Healthy Living
Moderator: Jayne Greenberg, President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition
As we move into a mobile-first world, can we build a simple, scalable, accessible app that offers a consistent architecture across sports, and would be most useful to parents, coaches and kids in helping create early positive experiences? The U.S. Olympic Committee has started down this path. We accelerate the process and blue-sky the killer app.

10:30 am Breakout Groups Form Around the Four Ideas

12:15 pm Lunch

12:45 pm "The 9 Principles of Innovation" -- Featured Talk with Gopi Kallayil
Triathlete, Chief Evangalist for Brand Marketing at Google, host of TV/YouTube show Change Makers

1:15 pm Breakout Groups Re-form Around the Four Ideas

2:15 pm Big Need: Summer Break
Lead discusssants: Jim Sallis, Active Living Research; Jody Breckinridge, Vice Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard; and Jake Ferreira, Mission: Readiness

2:45 pm Big Need: Interval Training for Kids
Moderator: Mikki and Jeff Lee, co-founders, CrossFit Kids

3:30 pm Presentations of the Four Ideas/Feedback/Polish
(by joining Project Play community on Google+)

4:30 pm Next Steps + Clinton Foundation pledge opportunities
Ginny Ehrlich, CEO, Clinton Health Matters Initiative
Anne Fifield, President, Human Strategies

Opportunities for organizations to take the lead on further developing today’s ideas


Off the Bench: How to Get Health Pros into the Game of Youth Sports?

Feb. 13, 2014

Event Summary (9-page PDF)

Consolidated Recommendations of Medical/Health Groups (7-page PDF)

Pediatricians, sports medicine doctors and researchers have valuable recommendations and insights on how to properly engage and protect children in sports – insights rarely considered by parents and sport organizers. This one-day event convened about 50 leaders from medicine, sport, academia and business innovation to address the role of medical professionals in informing the decision-making process in youth sports.

The dialogue identified opportunities to integrate medical/health professionals into the structure of sport bodies, and grow the quality and quantity of resources that can provide care for youth athletes. Participants also expressed support for holding off on tackle football until age 14. Helping to inform the day's conversation was the University of Florida’s SPARC, which consolidated the recommendations made by 11 medical and health groups on topics related to children’s sport activity –- from sport specialization to physical activity.

The roundtable was held in conjunction with the Developing the Healthy Athlete conference, with space provided by Disney/ESPN Wide World of Sports. Event sponsors were the American College of Sports Medicine; American Academy of Pediatrics; American Council on Exercise; Platinum Performance; Broad & Cassel, and the World Sports Institute.


"A Permit for Youth Football Safety?": report by Tom Farrey on New York City council member's proposal to require doctors at all games, athletic trainers at all practices for youth and high school teams (2/9/14)


9 am  Welcome

9:30 am Report: Consolidated Recommendations by Health/Medical Bodies
Presentation by J.O. Spengler, University of Florida’s SPARC + discussion
How to grow public, national sport bodies’ awareness of these recommendations?
What are the barriers to adoption by sport bodies?
How can insurance, other outside industries encourage standards?

10:15 am Growing Local Connections
Should each NGB, local youth sport board include one allied health pro?
If so, what is the best way to make that happen?
How can physicians better connect kids with healthy sport options?

11:15 am Growing Local Quality
How to address the lack of medical care at youth sporting events?
How to more efficiently train health care pros in basic sport medicine?
How to get every youth coach trained in basic CPR/First Aid?

Noon  Lunch

1 pm  Growing Local Credibility
How to convince parents the recommendations are in child’s best interest?
Parent asks whether child should play football: What to tell them?
What’s the ethical response to collision sports in general?

2 pm  From Talk to Action
Alex Chan, Clinton Health Matters Initiative

2:30 pm  Closing Comments



designing for universal access: how to reach all kids?

January 15, 2014

Roundtable summary report (10-page PDF)

Event Program (24-page PDF)

How can stakeholders deliver more early positive experiences to underserved populations? In the third of four Project Play roundtables on how to grow the quality and quantity of youth coaches, we turned our attention to what’s possible in low-income and other communities that lack trained volunteers. We also considered the needs of other marginalized groups, including the intellectually or physically challenged, and begged the question: Can we build a socially inclusive model for youth sports in America? This invitation-only gathering of 25 thought leaders was held at the Clinton Health Matters Conference of the Clinton Foundation, a partner in the Aspen Institute’s Project Play.

Participants included legendary golfer Gary Player, founder of the Player Foundation which serves disadvantaged children; Notah Begay III, founder of the Notah Begay Foundation and former PGA Tour golfer; Anita DeFrantz, CEO of the LA84 Foundation; Janet Froetscher, CEO of Special Olympics; Marj Snyder, research director for the Women's Sports Foundation; Ginny Ehrlich, CEO of the Clinton Health Matters Initiative; Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, U.S. Olympic Committee chief of organizational excellence and an Olympic gold medalist hurdler; Caitlin MorrisNorth America executive director for Nike's Access to Sport division; Eli Wolff, director of the Inclusive Sports Initiative; and Jill Vialet, CEO of Playworks.


"Sport Participation Rates Among Underserved American Youth," report prepared by Mike Sagas and George B. Cunningham of the University of Florida's Sport Policy & Research Collaborative


ESPN Town Hall on Kids & Sports at the Clinton Health Matters Conference

January 13, 2014

How do we get and keep more kids active in sports into the teenage years? On the opening night of the Clinton Health Matters Conference and in partnership with ESPN, President Clinton led a conversation on the central question of the Aspen Institute's Project Play with 15-time NBA All Star Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest players in basketball history. Tom Farrey, director of the Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program and ESPN reporter, also moderated panels featuring Major League Baseball All-Star Matt Kemp, Olympic champion sprinter Allyson Felix, NFL great and Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker, and U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun.

ESPN taped the Town Hall before a live, invitation-only audience of 400 health leaders and kids, and aired a one-hour, prime time special Feb. 9 on ESPN2. Watch video clips from each of the panels at the links below, and join the conversation on Twitter at #KidsAndSports and @AspenInstSports #ProjectPlay.

"(Sports) made a huge difference to me because it made me feel comfortable with being with other people, " Clinton told ESPN's Mike Greenberg in his moderated conversation with Bryant. "A lot of kids are just uncomfortable in school. You play a few games and you're not so uncomfortable anymore. It's a way of belonging. It's a way of having a common language without having to open your mouth."

Bryant came to the conversation from the perspective of both a father to two daughters and as a world-class athlete. Before the event, he said, "Today's kids are the least active in history and, dropping out of sports at alarming rates. I'm excited to join the Aspen Institute Project Play dialogue and partner with President Clinton, Nike and ESPN at the upcoming Clinton Health Matters conference to bring attention to the need for universal access and early positive experiences in sports and play." The Clinton Foundation is a partner in Project Play.

During the Town Hall, Blackmun explained how the USOC will act on one of the breakthrough ideas explored during a Project Play event in September. He announced a Clinton Foundation commitment to action, with the USOC and U.S. Paralympics pledging to introduce the "American Development Model," a comprehensive and collaborative initiative that will seek to unify National Governing Bodies and community programs in keeping Americans active in sport longer.

The model combines sport, play, education and health through a five-stage pathway that supports a positive sport experience based on the individual’s physical, mental and emotional development. Through its commitment to the Clinton Health Matters Initiative, the USOC will engage all 47 NGBs (national sport governing bodies) to endorse the American Development Model. Resources will include a dedicated presence at, coaching workshops, and educational materials to help guide parents, coaches, administrators and athletes.

Also at the Clinton conference, Nike announced it will continue its partnership with the Aspen Institute to address the physical inactivity epidemic in today’s youth. Through its “Designed to Move” platform, Nike will support the convening of leaders in the sports world to develop scalable solutions that address seven key indicators of early sports experiences -– access, age appropriateness, dosage and duration, fun, incentives and motivation, participant feedback, and coaching and education.

The solutions identified and developed through Project Play will be captured in a report to be released by the Aspen Institute at the end of the year.


The State Of Kids And Sports
This feature explored the statistics and facts about kids' participation in sports in the U.S.

Panel discussion: The Challenges
Tom Farrey hosted a panel discussion with Matt Kemp, Allyson Felix, Herschel Walker and Scott Blackmun

President Clinton + Kobe Bryant
Mike Greenberg moderated a conversation about the role sports played in their lives, and that of American kids everywhere

Panel discussion: The Solutions
Farrey asked Matt Kemp, Allyson Felix, Herschel Walker and Scott Blackmun how to improve youth sports

What Kids Think
Greenberg and Julie Foudy asked children how staying active has affected their lives


ESPN's Kids and Sports page

Town Hall photo gallery

"Bringing Sport into the Health Conversation," by Tom Farrey, blog post on Clinton Foundation website (1/13/13)

News release announcing event details (1/10/13)

Associated Press news story announcing the town hall at Clinton Foundation press conference (12/17/13)

Aspen Ideas blog by Karen Sommer Shalett, on 2014 duPont Award winner Tom Farrey and journalism informing work of Project Play (12/18/13) 

WATCH Scott Blackmun discusses the U.S. Olympic Committee's role in improving youth sports at Project Play launch summit (4/18/13)

kid-focused, coach-driven: what training is needed?

November, 20, 2013

Event Program (24-page PDF)

Roundtable summary report (10-page PDF)

What does good youth coaching look like? What are the practical elements that every adult who works with children needs to be trained in -- from CPR to skills development to positive motivational technique? The second of four roundtables focused on how to grow the quality and quantity of youth coaches in the U.S. The Aspen Institute's Project Play convened more than 30 coaching leaders to consider the prospects of creating a simple, affordable, credible training platform that parents has the endorsement of organizations parents know and trust. Featured guests at the event, sponsored by Nike, included Alan Ashley, U.S. Olympic Committee Chief of Sport Performance.

In advance of the roundtable, Project Play asked five notable sports figures to write a column on the Aspen Institute HuffPost Channel, discussing the youth coaches who made a difference in their lives. The series entries:

"We Need More Trained Coaches — and More Fraser Robinsons" by Craig Robinson, Head Men's Basketball Coach, Oregon State University;" Coaching for Life" by Billie Jean King, Member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition and Founder of the Women’s Sports Foundation; "My Sports Influences" by Jessica Aney, 2010 Sports Illustrated  ‘SportsKid of the Year’; "Winning Gold Medals on The Playing Field of Life" by Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, Olympic Gold Medalist and Chief of Organizational Excellence, U.S. Olympic Committee; "Early Positive Experiences = Athletes for Life" by Elliott J. Hill, President of Geographies & Sales, Nike  


"What Is the Status of Youth Coach Training in the US?" Project Play report prepared by Garrett Beatty and Bradley Fawver, the University of Florida's Sport, Policy & Research Collaborative (12-page PDF)


Welcome, Opening Remarks
•Alan Ashley, U.S. Olympic Committee
•Caitlin Morris, Nike Access to Sport
•Tom Farrey, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program

What is the state of youth coaching in the U.S.? WATCH
Lead discussant: Garrett Beatty, University of Florida
•Discussion of SFIA data on quality, quantity of youth coaches
•Sport, eduation, other organizations that offer training
•Gaps and implications

Think globally: What does the International Sport Coaching Framework offer? WATCH
Lead discussant: Sergio Lara-Bercial, International Council for Coaching Excellence
•What should a coaching structure look like in the U.S.?
•What are the roles of key organizations?
•Barriers, opportunities to adoption of ideas


Act locally: What does good youth coaching look like? WATCH
Lead discussant: Dr. Frank Smoll, University of Washington
•How can coaches best foster early positive experiences?
•What are the domains we want them trained in?
•What's fair to ask of volunteers?

What’s the best way to align, push training down the pipeline?
Lead discussant: Chris Snyder, U.S. Olympic Committee
•USOC's role in a simple, affordable, scalable platform
•Role of sport governing bodies
•Role of schools, colleges, other providers of training

Next steps + pledge process
Lead discussant: Alex Chan, Clinton Foundation


Kirk Anderson
Director, Coaching Education
US Tennis Association

Anderson is one of nine tennis teaching professionals to be certified as a Master Professional by the USPTA and the PTR.  He has a Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and a Master’s degree in Exercise Science from Western Michigan University. Anderson has published dozens of articles and written seven books on tennis.  His honors include the International Tennis Hall of Fame Educational Merit Award, the Person of the Year by Racquet Sports Industry, the Professional Tennis Registry Professional of the Year and the Western Michigan University Department of Human Performance and Health Education Alumni Honor Academy.

Alan Ashley
Chief of Sport
United States Olympic Committee

Ashley was named chief of sport performance for the USOC on Sept. 1, 2010, after  serving as managing director of sport performance since January 2010. Ashley oversees the USOC divisions tasked with providing targeted resources and support to the National Governing Bodies, athletes and coaches in pursuit of sustained competitive excellence. These areas include coaching and sport science, sports medicine, international games and sport partnerships. Sport performance is also responsible for the preparation and execution of all Team USA activities related to the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Ashley joined the USOC after 16 years with the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, where he was a key contributor to the rise of the U.S. ski and snowboard teams, having most recently served as the vice president of athletics.

Tom Avischious
Field Services Director
USA Swimming

Avischious works in the Club Development Division for USA Swimming, the national governing body for the sport. He is in his 19th year with USA Swimming where his main responsibility is oversight of the field staff that visit with clubs and coaches. Prior to this position, he was the Programs & Services Director where he helped develop and oversee most of the current programs designed to help USA Swimming member clubs and coaches.

Jason Baumann
Director of Education
USA Diving

Baumann’s responsibilities at USA Diving include coach education, training and certification.  Prior to coming to USA Diving, Jason was the Diving Coach for the University of Minnesota and ran the Twin City Divers club diving team. He coached Junior, and Senior National Champions, NCAA All-Americans, and medalists in International competition representing Team USA. He has been involved with USA Diving for 34 years as an athlete, coach, and administrator. Jason holds a Master's Degree in Kinesiology from Indiana University.

Garrett Beatty
Ph.D. Student, Sport Psychology
University of Florida

Beatty is a Ph.D. student in the Performance Psychology Laboratory, directed by Dr. Christopher Janelle, at the University of Florida. Prior to beginning his Ph.D. studies, Garrett spent two years as a secondary educator, football coach, and track & field coach. Garrett also served three years advising the Sport Management major at UF. Garrett's primary research foci include studying how the emotion regulation strategies individuals' employ influence their ability to perform motor tasks. Ultimately, Garrett is interested in seeing this work applied to improve performance in athletes, emergency response professionals, military personnel, and individuals engaged in clinical rehabilitation protocols.

Kyle Boyer
Manager of Coaching Education & Training
US Lacrosse

Boyer has been with U.S. Lacrosse since 2008 and worked in the finance department until 2011 when she moved over to coaching education.  Prior to her time at U.S. Lacrosse, Kyle worked for DC United of the MLS in accounting from 2007-2008, served as the head women's soccer coach for North Park University in Chicago, IL from 2005-2007 and was in public accounting from 2001-2005.  Boyer holds a masters degree in banking and bachelors in sociology.

Janet Carter
Coaching Corps

Carter joined Coaching Corps, formerly Team-Up for Youth, as Executive Director in 2008 and has led the expansion of Coaching Corps from a local Bay Area organization to a national leader in the sports-based youth development field. Coaching Corps recruits, trains, and places passionate volunteers as coaches in after-school programs to work with kids living in low-income communities, providing them with the health, educational and social benefits of having a trained coach as a teacher and role-model. For 15 years prior, Janet served as Vice President of the Family Violence Prevention Fund, now called Futures Without Violence, helping to grow the organization from a local nonprofit to a national leader in the effort to end violence in the family. She has served on numerous boards and is past Chair of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Children and Family Fellowship.

Andrea Cernich
Sports & Society Program
The Aspen Institute

Cernich joined the Sports & Society Program in December 2012 to help build out the Aspen Institute's Project Play. Andrea most recently served as Vice President for Sponsorship and Marketing for the Women's Sports Foundation, founded by Billie Jean King. Previously, she worked in the Obama Administration as Director of Strategic Partnerships for the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, where she cultivated relationships across sports, physical education and community-based organizations to fulfill Administration programmatic and outreach goals. Prior to the President's Council, Andrea managed outreach for a national coalition of sports-based youth development programs and was also Director of Communications for the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association where she engaged mass market, specialty and retail brands on industry issues including product safety and increasing sports participation.

Alex Chan
Clinton Health Matters Initiative
Chan currently serves as the Orfalea-Brittingham fellow at the Clinton Health Matters Initiative (CHMI), where he oversees the management and cultivation of CHMI's programmatic commitments. Prior to joining the Clinton Foundation, Alex was the City Planner for a mid-sized suburb in Southern California. He holds a master's in urban planning from the University of Michigan and recently completed graduate degrees in public administration and communications management from the University of Southern California.

Jay Coakley
Professor Emeritus
Department of Sociology
University of Colorado Colorado Springs

Coakley has for 40 years done research on connections between sports, culture, and society with much attention given to the play, games, and sport participation of young people. Coakley is an internationally respected scholar, author, and journal editor and has received many professional awards. His book, Sports in Society: Issues and Controversies, is used in universities worldwide. He continues his work to make sport participation a source of enjoyment and development for young people, and to make sports more democratic and humane for people of all ages.

Diana Cole
Director, Coaching Education
USA Volleyball

Cole joined USA Volleyball in 1998 as an Administrator for the Coaching Accreditation Program (CAP), and in 2000 became the Coordinator for the Nike VolleyVan and Assistant for Grassroots Programs. Cole assumed the role of Manager of Coaching Accreditation Programs in 2002 and became Director of Coaching Education Programs in 2005. Diana is a USAV CAP Level III accredited coach and became a USAV CAP Cadre member in 2000. At USA Volleyball, Diana directs all facets of the coaching education programs, including IMPACT and the Coaching Accreditation Program (CAP). Diana also authored the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) Fundamentals of Coaching Volleyball online course which launched in the Fall of 2009, and has had a hand in consulting/editing three textbooks for the American Sport Education Program (ASEP) and Human Kinetics.

Peter Davis
Sport Performance Management

Dr. Davis has worked in the elite sport field for more than 30 years, cultivating a diverse and unique career in several countries and different sport systems including: Exercise Physiologist at Nike; Director of Sport Sciences and Sports Medicine for the Australian Institute of Sport (for the Olympic Athlete Program); Director of Coaching, Sport Sciences and Technology at the U.S. Olympic Committee; Director of High Performance for Australian Rugby; and Director of Sport Science, Sports Medicine and Research for the Own The Podium Program in Canada. Currently Dr. Davis is the Founder and President of Sport Performance Management, an independent consulting firm based in Colorado, working with over 8 National Olympic Committees, over 50 National Governing Bodies, 60 Provincial Governing Bodies and other sport organizations in the areas of Strategic Planning, Long Term Athlete Development, building coaching systems and other specific performance related projects.

Jay Demings
Youth Program Director
USA Basketball

Demings joined USA Basketball, the governing body for basketball in the nation, in November 2013 to guide its newly created youth basketball division. Demings will oversee all facets of the department, including the development of youth basketball initiatives that address player development, coach education and safety in sport. He arrives at USA Basketball with 16 years of experience in boys and girls basketball and a master’s degree in sport leadership from Northeastern University. He served as director of operations for the Boston Amateur Basketball club in Boston, where he oversaw all aspects of the non-profit basketball program. From May 2011 to August 2012, Demings was a sport director at Boys & Girls Clubs of America in Warwick, R.I.

Kristen Dieffenbach
Associate Professor and Director, NCACE
West Virginia University

Dieffenbach is an associate professor of Athletic Coaching Education at West Virginia University and an Association of Applied Sport Psychology certified consultant. Currently she is the president of NCACE (National Council for Accreditation of Coaching Education). Kristen is also a professional coach with a category 1 (elite) USA Cycling license and a Level II endurance specialization from USA Track and Field. She been a coach for over 18 years working at the high school, collegiate, recreational, and elite levels. Her research interests include professionalism and ethics in coaching, athlete talent development and underrecovery.

Tom Farrey
Director, Sports & Society Program
The Aspen Institute

Farrey, a Murrow and Emmy Award-winning journalist and author of Game On: The All-American Race to Make Champions of Our Children, has directed the Sports & Society Program since its inception in 2011. The vision for the program flowed from his work as a long-form reporter with ESPN, including the 2008 publication of Game On, an investigation of the culture and structure of modern youth sports that became a required text in courses at many universities. In 2013, Farrey received an Edward R. Murrow Award for his piece on a paralyzed youth football player. Two of his other ESPN Outside the Lines stories have won sports journalism Emmy awards.

Wade Gilbert
California State University, Fresno

Dr. Gilbert is a frequent contributor to scientific periodicals, books, and popular media reports on sport coaching issues. He has directed research and applied consulting partnerships with coaches and athletes across multiple sports and countries. He is the Editor-in-Chief for the International Sports Coaching Journal and Associate Editor for the Journal of Sport Psychology in Action. Dr. Gilbert also co-edited the Routledge Handbook of Sports Coaching and serves as a scientific advisor for BeLikeCoach, a non-profit dedicated to improving the quality of youth sport settings.

Nick Inzerello
Senior Director, Football Development
USA Football

Inzerello is the senior director of football development for USA Football, where he is responsible for programs and resources serving football coaches, game officials, youth league administrators and players. This includes USA Football’s nationally accredited coaching education program for youth tackle, flag and high school coaches as well as programs including Heads Up Football, FUNdamentals, NFL FLAG and Punt, Pass & Kick (PP&K). In addition to his work at USA Football, Inzerello has served as a volunteer football coach in the Fairfax County (Va.) Youth Football League and serves on the Board of Directors for the National Council for Accreditation of Coaching Education (NCACE).

Sergio Lara-Bercial
Senior Research Fellow
International Council for Coaching Excellence

Lara-Bercia is a Spanish former professional basketball player and coach who has lived in the UK since 1999. In his 20 years of experience coaching, Sergio has been fortunate to work at all levels of the participation spectrum, from beginners to internationals. He has also led the development of the UK Coaching Children Curriculum, as well as producing a suite of resources for children’s coaches. At the International Council for Coaching Excellence, based at Leeds Metropolitan University, he has project managed the development of the International Sport Coaching Framework and has served as an advisor for countries such as South Africa and the Philippines. An M.Sc. in Sport Psychology, he is in the process of completing his PhD studies in the area of Psychosocial Development of Children In and Through Sport.

Ken Martel
Technical Director, American Development Model
USA Hockey

Martel has worked for USA Hockey for the past 15 years. The first 8 years of which as a National Team Coach at the U17, U18 and U20 divisions, including coaching USA Hockey's first world championship gold medal teams at U18 and U20. He is currently USA Hockey's Technical Director for the American Development Model, the organizations player development program. Prior to joining USA Hockey, Ken held coaching positions at St. Cloud State University, Michigan Tech University and the United States Air Force Academy.

Dave McCann
Director Coach Development
USA Rugby

McCann is one of the nation’s leaders in coaching education, having been elected President of the National Council for the Accreditation of Coaching Education in 2007.  Dave also serves as President of the Institute for Sport Coaching. Prior to coming to USA Rugby, Dave was the U.S. Olympic Committee Manager of Coaching Education. In 2003 Dave joined the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association as Director of Education Services. Dave started his career in coaching education in 1995, with the American Sport Education Program as its Associate Director.  Dave has an MBA from Wake Forest University.

Ted Miller
Vice President and Sports Education Director
Human Kinetics

In 25 years with the company, Miller has risen through the ranks at Human Kinetics from intern to VP.  For 14 of those years he directed HK’s Consumer Division, increasing sales revenue more than five-fold during that span. Miller has acquired and overseen the development of hundreds of instructional books and DVDs, including those by coaching legends like John Wooden, Dan Gable, and Mike Krzyzewski.  He has also forged successful business partnerships with several dozens of sport and coaching organizations, and most recently reached an agreement with the International Council for Coaching Excellence and the American Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, & Dance to publish a new online coaching journal starting in January 2014.

Caitlin Morris
North America Executive Director, Access to Sport
NIKE, Inc.

Morris is the North America Executive Director of Access to Sport, an organization supported by NIKE Inc. dedicated to unleashing human potential by enabling and inspiring youth participation in sports, active play and increased levels of physical activity. A 10-year veteran of NIKE Inc, Ms. Morris has served in various business leadership positions in Corporate Communications and Sustainable Business and Innovation.  As Senior Director of Integration and Collaboraton, Ms. Morris led stakeholder engagement and partnership efforts focused on improving working conditions in the supply chain.  As Stakeholder Partnerships Director for the Mobilize team, she focused on integrated advocacy efforts to accelerate human potential., including global partnerships leveraging sport for development. Prior to joining NIKE, Caitlin spent seven years at Mattel, Inc. working in corporate responsibility and international government affairs.

Jon Nolting
Director of Sport Education
U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association

Nolting oversees the coaches education program for the USSA. In the past year he has developed an on-line foundational ski and snowboard coaching course that is now a requirement for all USSA member coaches. In addition, he has been a driving force in developing the USSA’s long-term athlete development (LTAD) framework and infused LTAD programming into the coach education and certification system. He has taught coaches clinics for the past fifteen years in alpine skiing and currently coaches youth soccer while working through the U.S. Soccer coaches education system.

Nathan Plowman
Partnerships Director, Access to Sport
NIKE, Inc.

Plowman serves as the Director of Partnerships for NIKE’s Access to Sport division. In this role, he leads the management of major partnerships within the public and private sector. He has previously advised a number of non-profit and for-profit organizations, including Nike’s Sustainable Business & Innovation group, with the goal of aligning business performance with sustainability and social good. He holds a Master’s degree from Oxford University.

Scott Riewald
High Performance Director, Winter Sports
United States Olympic Committee

Riewald works in partnership with the eight winter sport National Governing Bodies to coordinate sport science and medical services as well as other forms of support for winter sport athletes. Riewald manages a sport science staff with expertise in exercise physiology, sport nutrition, sport psychology and strength and conditioning. Prior to the USOC, Riewald worked for the United States Tennis Association, where he served as the sport science administrator in its player development division. He worked closely with the sport science staff, the coaching education department and the USTA sport science committee to integrate sport science, sports medicine and technology with the goal of developing high performance tennis players. Before his work with USTA, Riewald spent four years as the biomechanics director for USA Swimming.

Paul Roetert

E. Paul Roetert, Ph.D., is the Chief Executive Officer of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD).  AAHPERD is the largest organization supporting and assisting professionals involved in physical education, recreation, fitness, sport and coaching, dance, and health education. Prior to this position, he was the Managing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s (USTA’s) Player Development Program and Tournament Director of the U.S. Open Junior Tennis Championships. He was also the Executive Director for the American Sport Education Program at Human Kinetics, in Champaign, Illinois. He is a Fellow in the American College of Sports Medicine, and he received the Editorial Excellence Award from the National Strength and Conditioning Association for his work on the Journal of Strength and Conditioning and Research.

Mike Sagas
Professor and Chair
Department of Tourism, Recreation and Sport Management
University of Florida

Prof. Sagas' primary line of inquiry in the field of sport management has been focused on the under-representation and differential treatment of youth, women and minorities in sports. The general goal of this research has been to provide theoretical and practical insights needed by scholars, policy makers, and managers to identify the barriers that limit the status, development, advancement and well-being of youth, women and racial minorities in sports. Sagas has authored or coauthored over 80 refereed journal articles and is a Research Fellow of the North American Society for Sport Management. Sagas also serves the University of Florida as the Faculty Athletics Representative to the NCAA and SEC.

Dan Schuster
Assistant Director of Coach Education
National Federation of State High School Associations

Schuster is the Assistant Director of Coach Education and also is the editor of the NFHS Ice Hockey Rules Book. Dan has been with the NFHS since August of 2008. Dan received his Bachelor’s degree in Sport Communication and his Master’s degree in Athletic Administration from Indiana University. Dan is responsible for many of the day-to-day operations of the NFHS Coach Education Program ( He has had the opportunity to be involved in the strategy, planning and growth of the NFHS Coach Education program. He actively promotes the program to member state associations and NFHS partners nationwide.

Erin Smith
Director of Education and Training
US Lacrosse

Smith is the director of education and training at U.S. Lacrosse where she guides the organization’s national strategies for the development and implementation of its national standardized training and certification programs for coaches and officials of men’s and women’s lacrosse at the high school and youth levels.  She has worked at U.S. Lacrosse since 2004 and resides in Baltimore, MD.

Frank Smoll
Professor of Psychology
University of Washington

Smoll’s research focuses on coaching behaviors and the effects of competition on children and adolescents. He has published more than 135 scientific articles and book chapters, and he is co-author of 22 books and manuals on youth sports. Dr. Smoll is a fellow of the American Psychological Association, the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP), and the National Academy of Kinesiology. He is an AASP Certified Consultant and was the recipient of AASP’s Distinguished Professional Practice Award. Dr. Smoll has extensive experience in conducting psychologically oriented coaching clinics and workshops for parents of young athletes.

Chris Snyder
Director of Coaching Education
United States Olympic Committee

Snyder’s responsibilities include discovering and providing resources to better benefit sport culture and the National Governing Bodies that service sport in our great nation.  In addition, he is focused on supporting both the Sport Performance Department and Team USA coaches as they strive to be the best they can be. Previously, Snyder served as the Manager of Coaching Education and Training for U.S. Lacrosse.  In addition to guiding the coaching education program for U.S. Lacrosse, he also served a large role in curriculum development, resource implementation, and event programing.  Snyder hails from Central Pennsylvania and holds an undergraduate degree from Shippensburg University and a Masters of Education degree in Sport Management from Millersville University.

Jim Thompson
Positive Coaching Alliance

Thompson founded PCA, a non-profit formed at Stanford University with the mission to create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports so that all youth athletes have a positive, character-building experience.  Jim was previously director of the Public and Global Management Programs at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Since its founding in 1998, Positive Coaching Alliance has developed a network of more than 130 trainers across the U.S., who have delivered 10,000-plus workshops for youth sports leaders, coaches, parents and athletes. Thompson is the author of eight books and was named one of the Top 100 Sports Educators in the U.S. by the Institute for International Sport in October 2007.




how can sports best produce a physically-active lifestyle?

November 17, 2013

Sports promote physical activity, but some provide more than others. Held at the American Heart Association's Global Congress on Physical Activity, this Aspen Timeout moderated by Tom Farrey explored which forms of sport produce the greatest health benefits for children -- and which carry the greatest safety risks. Topics included organized vs. unstructured sports, interscholastic vs. intramural sports, team vs. individual sports, and best practices by coaches.

Panelists were Dr. William Dietz, Past Director, Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity, U.S. Centers for Disease Control; Dean Kriellaars, Ph.D. CEP, University of Manitoba School of Medical Rehabilitation, Department of Physical Therapy; and Gary Hall Jr., Principal, Hallway Consulting, 10-time Olympic medalist in swimming.

Session audio available for purchase only at American Heart Association website




reimagining youth sports in America: what's in it for girls?

October 10, 2013

At the ESPNW Summit, Tom Farrey shared the vision of Project Play. He explained why identifying solutions that address the access barriers faced by children from low-income communities holds the promise of delivering the next wave of participation growth in girls' sports. While urban, low-income girls are among the most underserved populations in all of sports, progress lies in serving all kids in areas that lack viable parks and gyms, and available, well-run sport programs.




What’s Fair to Ask of the Citizen-Athlete? A Conversation with Chris Paul

September 27, 2013

How can professional athletes can best use their resources (fame, foundations, credibility) to get and keep more children active and healthy through sports, and support communities in need most effectively? Tom Farrey moderated a featured conversation on that topic with NBA All-Star Chris Paul, a member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition who explain why he gives back. The event was held at the Los Angeles studios of ESPN, a partner in the Aspen Institute’s Project Play, and served to anchor a multi-platform package that engaged ESPN and Aspen Institute audiences.

WATCH and READ: video and text pieces, by Tom Farrey chat session

SportsNation polls on public expections of athletes (vote)


Early Positive Experiences: What is Age-Appropriate?

September 4, 2013

Event Program (12-page PDF)

Roundtable summary report

Hosted at the U.S. Open and sponsored by Nike, the roundtable convened more than 25 leaders and experts to consider the prospects of anchoring the disjointed U.S. sports system in the principles of age-/developmentally appropriate play, with the goal of meeting the needs of today's children -- all of them. The event was the first of four scheduled gatherings through March 2014 focused on how to grow the quality and quantity of youth coaches, given the critical role they play in delivering early positive experiences to children between the ages of 6 and 12 and helping kids create lifelong patterns of health and fitness.

Dialogue outcomes:

• Agreement on the core experience that all kids (recreational and elite) should have
• Momentum for the American Development Model as a model to be embraced across sport silos
• Alignment on the role that physical literacy plays in activating that model
• Support for the U.S. Olympic Committee in taking the lead in promoting that model


Research report on athletic development and children, Project Play report prepared by Mike Sagas, University of Florida’s Sport and Policy Research Collaborative

“The Sports Gene and Why Parents Need to Relax a Little,” Huffington Post column by Tom Farrey (9/3/13)

“Miracle on Ice,” ESPN magazine article on the American Development Model, by Tom Farrey (6/26/13)

What Do We Really Know About Athletic Development in Children? -- Moderated conversation with Sports Illustrated senior writer David Epstein, author of "The Sports Gene: The Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance"; and Dara Torres, 12-time Olympic medalist swimmer WATCH

Roundtable event photos


9:00am - 9:30am
Welcome, Opening Remarks
Kurt Kamperman, USTA
Nathan Plowman, Nike
Tom Farrey, Sports & Society Program

9:30am – 10:15am
What do we really know about talent development of elite athletes? WATCH
Lead discussant: Chris Snyder, US Olympic Committee
• What role did coaching, PE, other factors play in the development of Olympians?
• How has pathway changed over past generation?
• Why is it important that coaches, coaches, stakeholders know the pathway?
• How does ignorance of the pathway limit the quality, quantity of kid athletes?

10:30am – 11:15am
What do we know about talent development of child athletes? WATCH
Lead discussant: Mike Sagas, University of Florida's Sport Policy and Research Collaborative
• What does the research say about early specialization vs. early sampling?
• What’s the evidence in support of the celebrated “10,000 hours rule”?
• The role of “deliberate play”
• How do we make room for the late bloomers, late adopters?

11:15am – 12:00pm
What is the American Development Model – and how scalable is it? WATCH
Ken Martel, Technical Director, American Development Model, USA Hockey
• What has USA Hockey learned about opportunities, challenges with ADM?
• What’s happening with USOC and other NGBs in terms of adopting ADM?
• How can NGBs push ADM down pipeline?
• Do sport bodies outside the Olympic family want to embrace ADM?

12:15pm – 12:30pm
How should “physical literacy” fit into a broadly-embraced model? WATCH
Colin Hilton, President and CEO, Utah Athletic Foundation
• What exactly is the definition of physical literacy, and what are its components?
• Should we adopt the goal of making every US child physically literate by age 12?
• What do we want to adopt from Canadian model of physical literacy?
• What is the appropriate ask of sport organizations, schools, other providers?

12:30pm – 1 pm
Next steps
Tom Farrey, moderator, and Ginny Ehrlich, Clinton Health Matters Initiative

Jessica Aney

2010 SI Kids “SportsKid of the Year”
Nationally-ranked hockey player
Nationally-ranked USTA member

Tom Aney
Father of Jessica Aney

Tom Avischious
Field Services Director
USA Swimming

Andrea Cernich
Aspen Institute

Jay Coakley
Professor Emeritus
University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

Peter Davis
Sport Performance Management

Kristen Dieffenbach
Associate Professor
West Virginia University
And, President-Elect
National Council for the Accreditation of Coaching Education (NCACE)

Ginny Ehrlich
Clinton Health Matters Initiative

Tom Farrey
Director, Sports & Society Program
Aspen Institute

Tim Flannery
Director of Coach Education
National Federation of State
High School Associations

Barry Ford
Director, Public Affairs and Advocacy

Dan Gould
Director, Institute for the Study of Youth Sports
Michigan State University

Dr. Brian Hainline
Chief Medical Officer

Colin Hilton
President & CEO
Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation

Sue Hunt
Chief Marketing Officer

Andrea Jaeger
Former No. 2 Tennis Player
Little Star Foundation

Dr. Neeru Jayanthi
Medical Director
Primary Care Sports Medicine
Loyola University Medical Center

Kurt Kamperman
Chief Executive, Community Tennis

Ken Martel
Technical Director,
American Development Model
USA Hockey

Javier Perez
Head Coach,  U.S. U-18 Men’s National Team
U.S. Soccer

Shellie Pfohl
Executive Director
President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition

Nathan Plowman
Partnerships Director
Access to Sport, North America
Nike, Inc.

Dean Riddle
SPARQ Performance Network
Nike, Inc.

Jeannette Rodriguez
NY Partnerships and Programs
Nike, Inc.

Sharon Roerty
Senior Program Officer
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Paul Roetert

Michael Sagas
Professor and Department Chair
Dept. of Tourism, Recreation and Sports Management
Sport Policy and Research Collaborative (SPARC)
University of Florida

Deborah Slaner Larkin
Past Executive Director
USTA Serves

Mara Smith
Founder, Principal

Chris Snyder
Director of Coaching Education
United States Olympic Committee

Dara Torres
12-time Olympic Medalist

Annie Warner
Nike, Inc.

Robyn Winans
Nike, Inc.

Nanette Yang
Steel Sports



What Do We Really Know About Developing Child Athletes?

Sept. 3, 2013

For parents and kids, just about every signal from the culture conveys the idea that a high dose of one sport at a young age is the pathway to athletic stardom. But what do we really know about early specialization and the “10,000 hours rule?” What’s the role of nature vs. nurture? And what’s the best way to develop the potential of all children? Moderated conversation served as a prelude to full-day roundtable on Sept. 4 on prospects of anchoring our sports system in the principles of age-appropriate play.

Moderator: Tom Farrey, Director, Sports & Society Program at the Aspen Institute; and author, Game On: The All-American Race to Make Champions of Our Children

Featured participants: David Epstein, author of current New York Times bestseller, "The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance; and senior writer, Sports Illustrated"; and Dara Torres, 12-time US Olympic Medalist, swimming


Event photos

Project Play launch Summit

April 9-12, 2013

The Aspen Institute’s Project Play was launched at a three-day summit in Aspen, Colorado that convened 80 high-level leaders for a series of educational and brainstorming sessions. Underwritten by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the invitation-only event included voices from across health, business, academia, sports, media and philanthropy, representing more than 100 million direct constituents and more than 30 million youth athletes.

Featured participants included: Scott Blackmun, CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee; David Drummond, Senior Vice President, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer at Google; Ginny Ehrlich, CEO, Clinton Foundation's Health Matters Initiative; Scott Hallenbeck, Executive Director, USA Football; Michelle Kwan, 5-time world champion figure skater in U.S. history and Public Diplomacy Envoy, U.S. State Department; Craig Robinson, Head Coach, Men’s Basketball Oregon State University; Sharon Roerty, Senior Program Officer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Larry Soler, CEO, Partnership for a Healthier America; Steve Stenersen, CEO, U.S. Lacrosse; John Walsh, executive editor, ESPN; and Jim Whitehead, CEO, American College of Sports Medicine.

READ: Event summary (PDF)

WATCH: Video of summit discussions

Full list of Summit Participants: (PDF)

Childhood Obesity Rates of U.S. Compared to Other Countries (PDF)

Aspen Daily News: "Athletes to Local Kids: Train Hard, Have Fun"

Aspen Idea blog: "The Aspen Institute's Project Play Launches"

Graphic artist’s renderings of session ideas explored:
International Models and Suggestions for National Policy on Youth Sport

Scenario Planning: Youth Sports in 2030 -- Aspirational Model

Youth Panels and Windows of Opportunitu

Breakthrough Ideas at the Local Level, and among National Governing Bodies