Aspen Institute Reports

regional state of play


The Aspen Institute's State of Play reports for Southeast MichiganWestern New York, and Greater Rochester and the Finger Lakes are the nation’s first analyses of how well a region’s stakeholders are serving the health needs of youth and communities through sports. More than 1,000 local adults and youth informed each of the three reports through interviews, roundtables, focus groups, and surveys. The reports, released in June 2017, feature original data on rates of sport participation, physical activity, and coach training. The reports were produced in partnership with the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, and Rochester Area Community Foundation. For more information, visit

SE Michigan                Western NY    

Greater Rochester        Summary + Video  

Baltimore State of Play

The State of Play: Baltimore report offers an assessment of the current state of play for kids and sports in a two-square mile area of East Baltimore. The report features results from a survey of nearly 2,000 youth, 40 findings on strengths and gaps in providing access to sport, five major recommendations, one big "Game Changer" opportunity, and 24 sector-specific, crowd-sourced ideas that stakeholders can plug into. State of Play: Baltimore also includes unique maps of the East Baltimore study area and economic and health impact assessment if stakeholders can get youth physically active. For more info, visit here.

State of Play: Baltimore

national state of play

Our annual report on how well stakeholders are serving children and communities through youth sports was first released in June 2016. The second edition came out in December 2017. The report offers grades from thought leaders on the state of youth sports, the latest data on participation rates, exclusive insights, and 40+ key developments in the past year in each of the areas of opportunity identified in our seminal 2015 report Sport for All, Play for Life: A Playbook to Get Every Kid in the Game. The annual report also identifies next steps in building the movement to make sport accessible and affordable to all.

State of Play: 2016

State of Play: 2017

sport for all, play for life

For over two years, Project Play convened 300+ thought leaders in a series of roundtables, identifying ways to get and keep all children through age 12 active through sports. This report, released in January 2015, aggregates the eight most promising strategies for the eight sectors that touch the lives of children. Supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Sport for All, Play for Life: A Playbook to Get Every Kid in the Game is a unifying document, collecting in one place the best opportunities for stakeholders — from sport leaders to mayors, parents to policymakers — to work together to grow access to an early, positive sport experience.

Website                    Report

physical literacy in US

Physical Literacy in the United States: A Model, Strategic Plan, and Call to Action offers a deep dive into the central idea behind Project Play. This report builds on research showing that children with motor skills competence are more likely to stay physically active into adolescence and adulthood, identifies the populations in greatest need, and offers 150+ activation ideas. The report, released in June 2015, was supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and received guidance from a 15-member, cross-sector working group.

Website                    Full Report              Executive Summary

physical literacy: A global scan

Physical Literacy: A Global Environmental Scan is the first effort to catalog physical literacy programming around the world. Three nations — Canada, Wales, and England — were selected for a deeper analysis given their especially active and developed physical literacy initiatives. The report, released in June 2015, found that each country or group has developed its own definition of physical literacy, and that the countries with the most established initiatives all deliver physical literacy programs primarily through sport and educational systems. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Council on Exercise provided support for the report. The report was authored by John O. Spengler, chair of the Sports and Physical Activity Research Collaborative and professor at the School of Public Health at Texas A&M University.

Global Environmental Scan

research archive

No one can improve youth sports on their own. Since 2013, Project Play and its partners have worked collaboratively to produce many materials on youth sports. See our archive for other useful documents on what good looks like in youth sports.

Project Play Research Archive